Training the First Generation of Neurologists in Haiti

Aaron Berkowitz teaches a neurology course to residents in Haiti.

Haiti has just one neurologist for 10 million citizens, but the burden of neurological disease there is enormous, say BWH’s Aaron Berkowitz, MD, PhD, and Louine Martineau, MD, of the University Hospital in Mirebalais, Haiti.

Since BWH helped the University Hospital open in 2013, Martineau has been regularly consulting on his neurologic patients with Berkowitz, who leads BWH’s Global Neurology Program. “By opening an outpatient clinic in communication with Dr. Berkowitz, we have created a way to manage patients with neurologic problems,” says Martineau.

To address the larger problem, Berkowitz and colleagues are launching Haiti’s first neurology training program. Initial seed funding will allow them to train two neurologists over the next two years.

“With further investment in the fellowship, we hope to train a few neurologists every year,” says Berkowitz. “These neurologists will serve different regions of the country so patients can get the care they need from local providers.”

Read the full story in the Brigham and Women’s magazine (pages 24 and 25).

Establishing a Neurology Hospital in Somaliland

Essa Kayd and patients, families
Essa Kayd, center (in lab coat) with a patient and family members in Somaliland.

Essa Kayd is a native of Somaliland, which is recognized as an autonomous region of Somalia, Africa, and is comprised of about  7 million people. He returned in 2009, after having been out of Somaliland for 29 years, and began the process of establishing a neurology hospital. This week, Essa will return once again to continue his mission, his “raison d’etre.”

By Essa Kayd, Supervisor of Neurology and EMG for BWH

Four years ago, I returned to Somaliland to take my aunt for surgery and my nephew to receive care after he experienced some fainting spells.

The closest country where this could be done was Ethiopia, which borders Somaliland. We took a plane to get there, rented a hotel room, hired an interpreter and left everybody behind.

I was determined to have my aunt treated and operated on as safely as possible. After her surgery was successfully completed, it was my nephew’s turn to see a neurologist. There, I met more patients from Somaliland and surrounding countries. The neurologist is among very few specialists in the whole continent, and neurological disorders including neuro-infectious diseases are a common cause of disability and death.

I looked carefully around the waiting room and noticed the dear prices that a minimum procedure would cost patients – in terms of time, money, and having to leave their families for a time.

I decided that I wanted to bring neurology to Hargeisa, the capital of Somaliland, to make it more accessible to these people. Continue reading “Establishing a Neurology Hospital in Somaliland”