Associate professor of nursing Anita Fisher will chair the Haitian Nurses Association's inaugural conference Nov. 18 to 20 in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
Nursing faculty Ruta Valaitis, Gladys Peachey, Linda O'Mara and Anne Ehrlich, along with McMaster nursing alumna and Haitian-Canadian Naika Duvalsaint, will also be attending the First International Congress of the Haitian Nurses Association (ANILH): Toward an Accessible and Equitable Health Care System for All. Organizers expect about 150 people to attend and McMaster is one of two Canadian universities involved with the conference.
The purpose of the event for ANILH is to "pull all of their partners together to discuss issues related to equity and access to health care for all, the role that nursing would play, the partnerships with other countries that could be developed, and the work that can be done to strengthen nursing in Haiti," said Fisher.
This gathering will build, in part, on the workshop that the McMaster School of Nursing (SON) hosted in June for a group of senior nursing officials from Haiti to learn more about their challenges, how McMaster can help meet their needs, and to provide an overview of nursing in Canada.
"When the Haitian nurses came here, they were impressed with the way they were able to be first on the agenda, have their concerns heard, outline what they think they need and then to have the Canadian contingent respond accordingly," said Fisher.
This is the second trip to Haiti for Fisher, who also traveled there last fall to conduct a needs assessment as part of a SON project funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada. She said the success of the June workshop plus her international experience is why she was asked to chair the conference. "Their vision is to have a health care system that is equitable and accessible to all Haitians. Our involvement will help enhance nursing in Haiti and their role in achieving that vision."
Valaitis, an associate professor with the SON, will attend in her role as deputy director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO)/World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Centre on Primary Care and Health Human Resources. At a recent meeting of the Pan American Network of Nursing and Midwifery Collaborating Centers (PANMCC) she initiated the development of a small subgroup to discuss initiatives supporting nursing in Haiti.
"We're looking at ways that WHO Collaborating Centre initiatives can be better coordinated for nursing capacity building in Haiti and how we can strengthen collaborations with the Haitian Nurses Association and senior nursing officials there to support nursing education and professional practice development in that country," said Valaitis.