Houlton Rotary Club welcomes Haitian doctor for weekly meeting

3 years ago

HOULTON, Maine — The Houlton Rotary club welcomed Dr. Claude Surena as its guest speaker Monday, June 28 via Zoom from Haiti. 

Dr. Surena is a graduate doctor of the School of Medicine of the State University of Haiti with a clinical specialization in pediatrics and neonatology. He occupied various positions of responsibilities within the Haitian public administration, Ministry of health and population (MSPP) particularly as Chief of Staff of the Minister. 

He is a co-manager for the Board of Administration of Groupe Sante Plus, a private firm in charge of the financial and administrative management of an auto-insurance program. He also works as an independent consultant in the various fields related to the health sector in particular of HIV/AIDS. He was the medical director for several hospitals in the country.

He has been elected as president of the Rotary club of Pétion Ville and is a four-time president of the Haitian Medical Association. He has been designated by the president of Haiti as National Coordinator of the health response after the earthquake in January 2010.

In March 2021, he lost his wife to COVID. During the meeting he explained that at the beginning of 2020, COVID was a myth for most Haitians. The population had a hard time believing the virus was real, since no one in that country was getting it. Until just recently a lot of people are dying from the virus. 

The Rotary in Haiti is very involved in campaigns that promote hand washing and various other simple hygiene tasks that could help limit the spread of the virus. This task has proved to be a  challenge for Haiti because of the lack of water in some under-developed places.

The Haitian government is asking the population to wear a mask and to practice social distancing. This has been hard to do in public transportation and street markets since many of the Haitian citizens use these facilities and they tend to get crowded. The Rotary has given a lot of masks to help with the spread, but most people in that country don’t want to wear the masks. 

The Haitian Government has offered to the private sector to be in charge of the distribution of the vaccine, but they refused the offer and asked the government to start the vaccination for free for the entire population. Carrying the vaccine is still difficult because Haiti is often, every day, without electricity. Most people have to provide their home electricity with a generator or solar panel but with the violence and political instability at its highest since 2019, everyone is afraid to go out to buy gasoline and even groceries.

Those who can  afford it go to Florida to have the vaccine. But still, most of the population are not vaccinated and the cases are growing every day.