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Original Research

A Pilot Initiative to Deliver Community-based Psychiatric Services in Rural Haiti After the 2010 Earthquake

Authors:

David J. Grelotti ,

Department of Psychiatry, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, CA; Department of Psychiatry, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA
About David J.
MD
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Amy C. Lee,

Palo Alto Medical Foundation, Mountain View, CA
About Amy C.
MD, MPH
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Joseph Reginald Fils-Aimé,

Zanmi Lasante, Haiti; Department of Global Health and Social Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA
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MD
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Jacques Solon Jean,

Zanmi Lasante, Haiti
About Jacques Solon
BA
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Tatiana Therosmé,

Zanmi Lasante, Haiti
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BA
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Handy Petit-Homme,

Zanmi Lasante, Haiti
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BA
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Catherine M. Oswald,

Partners In Health, Boston, MA
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MPH
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Giuseppe Raviola,

Department of Global Health and Social Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA; Partners In Health, Boston, MA; Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School and Department of Psychiatry, Boston Children's Hospital, Boston, MA
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MD, MPH
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Eddy Eustache

Zanmi Lasante, Haiti
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MA
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Abstract

Background

Worldwide, there is a gap between the burden of mental distress and disorder and access to mental health care. This gap is particularly large in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). After the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, the international health care organizations Partners in Health and Zanmi Lasante worked to expand local mental health services in rural Haiti.

Objective

The aims of this study are to describe clinical characteristics of the patients served during a pilot project to deliver community-based psychiatric services in rural Haiti and to show how this experience complements the Mental Health Gap Action Programme (“mhGAP”), a tool developed by the World Health Organization to support mental health care delivery by nonspecialists in LMICs.

Methods

The pilot was conducted in March 2011. A visiting psychiatrist traveled to rural Haiti and paired with local clinicians to evaluate patients and to support quality improvement practices in psychiatric care. Patients received a standard neuropsychiatric evaluation. mhGAP was an important clinical reference. To assess the experience, we conducted a retrospective chart review of outpatient encounters.

Findings

Sixty-five patients presented with a wide range of common psychiatric, neurologic, and general medical conditions. Forty-nine of these patients (75%) reported primary problems subsumed by an mhGAP module. Fifteen patients (23%) reported headache as their chief complain, a condition that is not currently covered by mhGAP. Surprisingly, only 3 patients (5%), reported earthquake-related distress.

Conclusions

Our clinical data reinforce the need for provision of standard psychiatric and neurologic services in LMICs. Such services ought to accompany interventions targeted specifically at disaster-related problems. Clinical situations falling outside existing mhGAP modules inspired the development of supplemental treatment protocols. These observations informed coordinated efforts at Zanmi Lasante to build a sustainable, integrated mental health system in Haiti that may be relevant to other resource-limited settings.

How to Cite: Grelotti, D.J., Lee, A.C., Fils-Aimé, J.R., Jean, J.S., Therosmé, T., Petit-Homme, H., Oswald, C.M., Raviola, G. and Eustache, E., 2016. A Pilot Initiative to Deliver Community-based Psychiatric Services in Rural Haiti After the 2010 Earthquake. Annals of Global Health, 81(5), pp.718–724. DOI: http://doi.org/10.1016/j.aogh.2015.08.028
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Published on 29 Mar 2016.
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