Haiti’s integration and active participation in the activities and products of the Virtual Library of Health (VHL) is a sought-after result years in the making. In 2018, the PAHO/WHO Office in Haiti, the Centre d’Information et de Formation en Administration de la Santé (CIFAS) of the Ministère de la Santé Publique et de la Population (MSPP) in Haiti and BIREME developed a technical cooperation activity aimed at strengthening information and knowledge management to improve access, use, and production of scientific and technical health information in the country.
In the following years it was not possible to move forward with actions and activities seeking such integration and active participation of Haiti’s institutions in the VHL, mainly due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, in 2021 a new opportunity arose from the interest of the Direction de la Pharmacie, du Médicament et de la Médecine Traditionnelle DPM/MT of the Ministère de la Santé Publique et de la Population, facilitated by the PAHO/WHO Office in Haiti, through the actions of the Network of Traditional, Complementary and Integrative Medicines (MTCI Americas Network). This opportunity facilitated extending to other actions in the VHL, such as the inclusion in the VHL of Haitian documents on COVID-19, Haiti’s participation in the Webinar “Articulation of MTCI in Health Systems of the Americas: Regulation and Policies” and the possibility of translating the COVID-19 Window of Knowledge into French.
It is worth noting the words Diego Gonzalez, Director of BIREME, at the opening of the webinar: “For the MTCI Americas Network collective, an adequate articulation of MTCI in health systems implies the recognition of medical systems and therapeutic methods that are part of the MTCI group, at all levels: legislative, academic, political, and healthcare. MTCI is an important contribution to primary health care, and universal health coverage.”
In the same line, Natalia Sofía Aldana, executive secretary of the MTCI Americas Network, stresses that “the success of the MTCI Americas Network is based on the diversity of collaborators involved in MTCI, from the different countries of the region, which has allowed for the creation of a collaborative workspace nurtured by the experiences from the academy, the ministries of health, research groups, professional associations, service providers, as well as indigenous organizations and NGOs. Haiti’s recent linkage as a new member country of the Network will enrich the collective construction of ongoing projects, mainly from the VHL MTCI Americas. Haiti has extensive experience articulating MTCI in its health systems, and its experience will facilitate the exchange of good practices with other countries in the Region.”
“In March 2021, the first foundations for a strong collaboration with BIREME and its virtual component VHL on Traditional, Complementary, and Integrative Medicine (TCIM) were laid. Following brief text-based exchanges on traditional medicine, the VHL team quickly contacted the PAHO/WHO office in Haiti to offer their support. This first fruitful meeting opened the way to Haiti’s participation as speaker of the roundtables held during the workshop on articulating TCIM with health systems, event held on March 26, 2021.
This space allowed Haiti to share its experience on the regulatory framework for traditional medicine and corresponding documents, thus strengthening links between VHL and the medicine’s national regulatory authority in Haiti. In keeping with its mandate of technical cooperation in scientific information related to Health, BIREME was readily available for a strategic follow-up meeting on a broader collaboration framework. The high-level meeting was held on March 24, 2021 with Haiti’s PAHO/WHO country representative, the BIREME Director, Dr Diego Gonzalez, and their relevant technical teams.
In line with the priorities expressed by the national health authorities, and in alignment with BIREME’s mission, avenues of intervention aimed at visibility, accessibility, dissemination, use and impact of scientific information generated by Haiti were thus proposed. These areas entail ensuring the availability of content and interface in French and information sharing of information generated by Haiti. This includes relaying information on COVID-19 published by the authorities and highlighting the country’s experiences and achievements.
The PAHO/WHO office in Haiti will continue to support these efforts by supporting the revision of texts and content to be translated into French– among other key activities. As a result of this first concerted effort, a French interface of COVID-19 windows of knowledge is now available.”
According to Veronica Abdala, BIREME’s Information Source Managers, “working with Haiti is to be in line with PAHO/WHO recommendations to work with priority countries and we are confident that we will be able to contribute to capacity building and also to gather the country’s experience on certain topics to enrich our information sources in the French language.”