Public Health and Primary CareCommentary

An International Health Elective in Haiti: A Case for Osteopathic Medicine

Sidney Coupet, DO, MPH, MSc; Joel D. Howell, MD, PhD; and Barbara Ross-Lee, DO
Notes and Affiliations
Notes and Affiliations

Received: January 18, 2013

Accepted: February 22, 2013

Published: June 1, 2013

J Osteopath Med; 113(6): 484-489

As global health education becomes increasingly important, more physicians are participating in international health electives (IHEs). Haiti is a favorable site for an IHE because of its substantial health care needs and rich culture. Although both osteopathic and allopathic physicians can provide effective health care to Haitians, osteopathic physicians may be particularly well suited to serve in Haiti because of their training in osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT). Because OMT’s laying of the hands (high touch) is similar to the touch inherent to Haiti’s traditional ethnomedical practices, osteopathic physicians’ use of OMT can enhance trust among Haitians and increase Haitians’ willingness to work with westernized medical practitioners. In addition, an IHE in a low-resource country such as Haiti can provide osteopathic physicians with a global outlook on medicine and a range of critical communication and clinical skills. The authors advocate for the development of an IHE in Haiti for osteopathic physicians.

Read Full Article