Critical Training Interventions and Professional Development

NPH Haiti Special Needs Program works closely with partner organizations to offer education, services and support.
June 19, 2017 - Haiti

The training team and course participants on the final day of the two-week course.

The NPH Haiti Special Needs Program is passionately committed to strengthening its professional skills in the field of physical therapy. At Kay Gabriel Therapy Center in Tabarre, our therapists receive continuous training from in-house specialists and visiting international experts. Techniques and strategies are shared and ongoing peer support is provided. An extensive formal training program is also delivered; that program included ten training days and one extended expert visit in 2016.

Norma Lopez, Coordinator of Rehabilitative Services, is often invited to address medical professionals on issues relating to the rehabilitation and treatment of individuals with disability. She recently delivered seminars on Physical Therapy and Cerebral Palsy at Líhopital General and Hopital La Paix in Port-au-Prince. This demonstrates the high regard to which the program is held and contributes to the pool of professional expertise at national level.

NPH Haiti Special Needs Program also works closely with partner organizations to deliver basic therapeutic services to isolated families. These include Aksyon Gasmy, a small NGO that works with marginalized individuals and families in the northwest of the country. Partner organization staff attend workshops when the subject matter is relevant and when it is feasible, transport-wise. A block training structure has been put in place to accommodate partner organizations; it is more convenient and productive for their staff to attend a small number of block sessions rather than many individual ones.

These training interventions are critical in Haiti, where the educational framework for physical therapists is extremely limited. They are challenged to bring NPH Special Needs Program closer to its ultimate aim of achieving participation, equality and full human rights for individuals with disability in Haiti. Quality professional training is a key marker on this path.

Significant progress toward this goal was made recently with the delivery of a two-week training course by staff from the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Genoa, one of the largest universities in Italy. Contact was made through Maddalena Boschetti of Aksyon Gasmy and a team was assembled to travel to Haiti in May. Their visit was supported by the Rotary Club in Imperia and the University of Genoa.

The team was led by Caterina Castagneto, a renowned expert in the Bobath approach to neurological rehabilitation and treatment. This method promotes motor learning and control and improves mobility and overall physical function. The team also included Carlo Amoretti, Sabrina Cerutti and Martina Canone, who were very generous with their time and expertise. The training was intensive and covered topics such as brain function, child development, motor skills and disability rights. It also included practical demonstrations of technique with children from Kay Gabrielís busy services.

The course was attended by 25 therapeutic and medical staff from NPH Haiti Special Needs Program, Aksyon Gasmy, two local hospitals and a prosthetic center. Attendees grasped their learning opportunity with both hands, listening intently, taking an active role in group work and contributing to discussions on all topics. Attendance was excellent and a survey completed before and after the training event showed high levels of knowledge transfer and great satisfaction with the overall standard of training.

On the final day of training, the team from the University of Genoa was presented with locally-made gifts from the onsite craft shop and treated to a spontaneous song of appreciation by everyone present. The team will return in September 2017 and again in early 2018; the course is a modular one and those who complete it will receive a certificate to acknowledge their commitment to ongoing professional development.

NPH Special Needs Program Haiti would like to thank everyone involved in designing, delivering and facilitating this course. It was a true team effort but special thanks must go to Caterina, Carlo, Sabrina and Martina for the kindness and solidarity they showed in travelling to Haiti on a voluntary basis to support us. They have heartened us on our journey and we look forward to continuing our warm collaboration. Many Haitian children will benefit from that collaboration, as will their parents and families. In a country where individuals with disabilities are often ignored or dismissed, it feels right simply to put their needs at the center of this important training initiative and all other program activities.

Tracy Keogh   
Special Needs Program Coordinator




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