Over the course of 10 years, the University Hospital of Mirebalais (HUM) has trained 194 Haitian medical specialists across 10 residency programs, actively transforming the healthcare field in a country where medical services are not always accessible to those who need it the most. On June 6th, 2023, the medical education department at HUM received the exciting news that the family medicine program at HUM and the internal medicine program at Saint-Nicolas Hospital (HSN) would both officially be accredited by the ACGME International (ACGME-I). ACGME-I is the professional organization responsible for accrediting graduate medical education programs for physicians outside the United States.
“This means our training programs meet an international standard”, explains Dr. Ornella Sainterant, director of medical education at HUM.
The ACGME International accreditation demonstrates that graduate medical education programs outside the United States meet established standards for Institutional, Foundational, and Advanced specialty education. The ACGME-I employs a comprehensive, peer-review process not only to evaluate, but also to improve and publicly recognize programs in graduate medical education that meet the highest standards of educational quality.
The program directors, faculty members, administrative team and residents at both residency programs worked closely together to prepare the application document which was submitted in October 2022. “It really was a team effort”, said Dr. Sainterant. “Everyone worked really hard to prepare the application”, she added. “The curriculum needed to be up to par. The academic training of the residents needed to be meticulously prepared. The work environment needed to be adequate”, she further explained.
This prestigious accreditation is very hard to attain. It required a substantial amount of work, time and commitment from Zanmi Lasante: the residency program directors, the medical education office, the Graduate Medical Education Committee (GMEC), the chief of clinical services, the faculty/attending physicians, residents, administrative staff, HUM and ZL leadership and more. In the months of January and February 2023, a team from the accreditation council performed thorough, virtual site visits which included interviewing groups of stakeholders, verifying whether the reality coincided with the information provided on the application. Following this assessment, accreditation was granted and retroactively took effect on July 1st, 2022.
For Dr. Sainterant, this great accomplishment shows that Zanmi Lasante (ZL) is committed towards the advancement of medical education not just for their hospitals but for the entire country. She asserted:
“This proves our will to reinforce the Haitian health system. The more we train qualified health professionals, the more we ensure ourselves of the quality of the healthcare we provide to our patients”.
Of the graduates, 77% of the ZL medical residency program graduates stayed to work in Haiti and 75% of the residency training programs are now led by alumni. “I can proudly say I was trained at an accredited program”, says Dr. Sainterant.
The accreditation also highlights ZL’s commitment to social justice and equity, which is a crucial element of the training. The programs put great emphasis on understanding the cultural realities of Haiti; training the residents to serve the communities while being mindful of the challenges they may face. ZL firmly believes that everyone deserves access to quality healthcare.
This accreditation comes at a time where Haiti is plagued by a multitude of issues rendering life extremely difficult. Widespread gang violence has worsened already existing problems such as poverty and access to healthcare. “I can say that for everyone who has worked adamantly at getting this accreditation, the news brings enormous joy!” stated Dr. Sainterant. “They sacrificed so much. They put their lives on the line to be here”, she insisted.
“In the difficult moments our country is facing, this great news brings us all a light of hope in a country where despair often reigns.”
As the largest and most advanced public sector hospital in Haiti, the University Hospital of Mirebalais, HUM opened its doors in March 2013 to provide care to over 185,000 residents in Haiti’s Central Plateau and over 3 million people from across the country. The hospital now offers 10 residency programs in pediatrics, general surgery, obstetrics and gynecology, neurology, nurse anesthesiology, emergency medicine, internal medicine, orthopedic surgery and family medicine as well as 3 fellowship programs in neurology, plastic and reconstructive surgery and emergency sonography.