Penn Vet students advance One Health in Haiti

July 18, 2016

In a country where livestock is a vital source of food and income, student-led group Pou Sante provides care to animals and training to farmers.

(Photo courtesy of Penn News)Two professors. Eleven students. Over 300 farmers. A thousand animals.

This is the fourth year that students from the University of Pennsylvania's School of Veterinary Medicine have traveled to the community of Thibeau in northern Haiti, and judging from the above stats outlined in a recent article by Penn News, the June 2016 trip was their most productive yet.

The trip was coordinated through Pou Sante (“for health” in Haitian Creole), a student-led organization from Penn Vet that was built on the belief that human and environmental health are directly related to animal health-a connection known as One Health.

“In developing nations, livestock plays such an important role to families,” Brianna Parsons, a second-year veterinary student who helped organize the 2016 trip, told Penn News. “It's a source of protein; it's a source of income; it's a source of financial security.”

Veterinary care is difficult to find and afford in Haiti, so this year's group wanted to not only improve animal health during their 10-day trip, but also enable farmers to improve and maintain animal health year-round.

Thus, in addition to holding animal clinics, the Pou Sante team inspected entire herds at individual farms where they were able to visit with farmers, listen to their needs and provide them with medical protocol kits. Each kit contained medications commonly needed for livestock care (a first for Pou Sante) and instructions for diagnosis and treatment.

“We had pictures of what the animal might look like and then we would have instructions,” Parsons told Penn News. “‘If you see these things, give them 1, 4 and 7.' Then there would be a chart with what each drug is, what it's used for, how to give it, how much to give.”

While the Pou Sante group feels the strain of having more tasks than time, they left Haiti with the hope that the farmers they trained will pass on their skills to others for the benefit of both the people and animals of Thibeau and beyond.