jeudi 1 juin 2006
Bring training and supplies from North America to support sweeping change in existing hospitals in Latin America. Introduce what has already been proven to work. Be culturally sensitive. Partner wisely. Operate at the local level, and for the short term. Start at a pilot site, rollout through a country. Keep pushing forward.
In partnership with Children's Hospital of Boston we began.
We started carefully. We chose the Dominican Republic as our pilot country, collected medical supplies in Kim's garage, designed a simple program of intervention with friends in the Harvard Medical School community, and began crisscrossing the country, bringing donated equipment and doctors using their vacation time. We conducted rural clinics, toured local hospitals, trained healthcare workers and met with government officials. Our budget was roughly $30k/year and we resisted all but the most persistent donors. We wanted confidence that our program would significantly improve infant and maternal care at the local level - and scale quickly once established.
By the summer of 2006 we felt ready to take the next step. We established Infante Sano as a tax-exempt organization. We created an Advisory Board to help oversee our work. We opened our first in-country office, in the Dominican city of Bani, and hired Sarah Henry, our first employee. A Columbia School of Public Health graduate, Sarah had spent three years in the Dominican Republic with the Peace Corps. The regional hospital in Bani was to be the site of our first full-scale pilot program and Sarah would lead our effort to translate Harvard insight into sustainable local action. Our budget was now about $100k/year.
In November 2006, Kim and I brought several carefully chosen friends to take a look at our DR program. Stephanie Cabot, Ben Downs, Marcie Tyre and Linda McQuillan were among the group. We asked them to evaluate our work - not in a strictly medical sense, as Kim had built a gifted team to do that - but as thoughtful community leaders. Did our plan to embrace the UN's Millennium goal of improving infant and maternal healthcare make sense? Might it work? Could it scale? Could it be funded? Their enthusiasm and generosity along with the program's success on the ground gave us the confidence to accelerate our plans.
That was a almost three years ago.
In Bani, San Cristobal and La Romana we've now trained hundreds of doctors and nurses in neonatal resuscitation, emergency obstetric care, and care for newborn babies - reaching over 35,00 mothers and infants. We've remodeled and re-equipped three hospitals' infant and maternal care facilities, shipping almost $2 million dollars of supplies and equipment for a mere investment of $50k. We've opened two clinics for impoverished mothers and children and had more than 5,500 visits annual from them. Our local staff numbers 14 and we've built critical partnerships with the Dominican Ministry of Health and clinical partners across the country. We are confident that our programs are improving the health and wellbeing of women and children and we are poised to spread our model across the DR and build partnerships to implement in other countries.
The crazy idea of five years ago - a twenty year plan to offer dramatic, measurable health improvements to mothers and infants in Latin America - seems just a little less nuts now. Maybe that's because our programs, though still developing, are clearly working. Maybe it's because such talented folks have been willing to work with us, and such generous ones willing to support us. Or maybe it's just because we finally abandoned Kim's garage and found an office!
If you've been supporting us, please accept my warmest thanks. If you have ideas about how we can improve our programs, more cost-effectively gather supplies, raise the money we need, or tell the story of our work, please contact us. We are eager for your help.
President, Board of Directors