We had an exciting day down in D.C. for our public health policy day. We left as a group bright and early on the MARC train and arrived for a meeting at the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) headquarters. We met with both nurse and physician trained staff members to discuss the organizations work in Haiti as well as to learn more about the public health challenges the country currently faces. Understanding that Haiti is the poorest country in the Western hemisphere, we learned that the majority of PAHO’s work has been focused on meeting the Millennium Development Goals set out by the United Nations specifically related to maternal mortality where there has been shortcomings. In addition, we learned more about the Cholera situation in Haiti and were impressed with the cohesive response that the organization had in conjunction with community partners in Haiti. It was an emotional recollection of memories and moving stories for the staff members we talked to.
We then went to Capitol Hill after lunch for a House hearing about the current situation between Israel and Pakistan. While not entirely focused on public health, it was interesting to see how the legislative process works first hand–especially as a few of us in the group are hoping to eventually land a career that links clinical care with policy and advocacy. With the global political situation, very much related to public health in Haiti (with the introduction and spread of Cholera in Haiti being linked to UN troops among other factors), it was a great foundation before departing for our clinical experience.