November 8, 2010
Haiti Spay/Neuter Training
by Chris Broughton-Bossong
In the last week of October, our team conducted a ground-breaking training session in Croix-des-Bouquets, Haiti at the Haiti Animal Care Center. HSI spent the past several months identifying the different strengths and interests of local veterinarians, selecting representatives from each of the 10 departments (regions) of the country. Watch a video of the training.
In partnership with Best Friends Animal Society, HSI launched this training for some of the most surgically proficient doctors from across Haiti as part of our continued work with the Ministry of Agriculture. HSI and Best Friends intend to conduct a series of surgical spay and neuter clinics across the country in conjunction with the ongoing efforts by the Ministry of Agriculture's Animal Health Department to help fight the incidence of rabies on the island. HSI also developed a manual of best practice techniques and considerations for field spay/neuter clinics that factors in the resources, availability of medications and finances of the veterinary community in Haiti. This document has been translated into Creole so that it can be used by Haitian veterinarians to educate veterinary agents and technicians back home in their communities.
Our team spent five days covering clinical surgical topics ranging from maintaining sterility to applying sutures, including three days of hands-on medical examinations, treatments and, last but not least, surgeries. Throughout, there was a focus on demonstrating the essential components of a safe and efficient field surgical clinic. Although five days is an admittedly short period of time in which to cover such a broad array of topics, this training served as an introduction to a much larger, long-term project that HSI will be developing in Haiti. We plan to continue our education of vets and implementation of locally-operated surgical clinics to humanely address the country-wide concerns associated with unchecked street dog populations.
The 16 Haitian veterinary doctors who attended were divided into four groups during the training. Watching the transition of these vets from unsure but eager participants into cohesive teams of compassionate surgeons was tremendous. Every day, the unique skills of each vet became more apparent. Some were better surgeons, some, handlers and others, teachers. Each team very quickly learned to identify these strengths among its members and embraced them. Vets who had never been asked to take the lead during a surgery learned to train the others on their team as they operated. Those who may not have thought of anesthesia as more than an injection learned to diligently monitor the reactions of their patients and determine what steps to take to ensure their comfort. Perhaps the least clinical but most moving advancement we witnessed was to see veterinarians who had never thought to hold a dog any longer than necessary, lie on the ground after surgeries, gently caressing their patients' heads as the animals awoke from anesthesia.
After seeing the astounding level of interest, dedication and compassion of the Haitian veterinary doctors during this last clinic, we are confident that cooperation and in turn, positive change is possible and with time, will be achieved.
Chris Broughton-Bossong is Haiti Program Coordinator for HSI.