Reflexions on the amhe-grahn project.

According to data from the Pan American Health Organization, PAHO, Haiti and Guyana hold the record for cardiovascular death rate in the Americas. Incidentally, the Dominican Republic that ranks fourth has a 255.7 per 100,000.00 against ours of 428.7. However sobering this statistic is, think about the situation of females with cervical cancer. Even when discovered, unlike in other countries, it’s a kiss of death in Haiti most of the time. As a result, it makes Haiti one of the worst places to suffer from cervical cancer. Yet it’s a preventable and curable disease. Obviously, this begs the question: do these statistics matter to AMHE?

According to its mission statement, the answer ought to be a resounding yes. It states clearly that AMHE would attempt to enhance the welfare of our brothers and sisters here and back home. How is it that somehow that noble goal has become lost to the public? As I ask this question, some interesting observations come to mind. 2 wise men who have passed away within the past year have each told me something that was hard to swallow then and now but unfortunately rings so true.

The late Paul Farmer was invited to our annual congress in Chicago in 1998. I met him in the hallway and to paraphrase what he told me, it would go like this: “Haitian doctors crave opulence and won’t be fazed to see benevolence crater.” The other wise man was our departed Rodrigue who once told me that “I was able to build a successful fundraising campaign once I realized that my brothers and sisters won’t contribute that much to it.” We all know that he had gone back to his hometown to establish a string of schools.

Whether we like it or not, these two statements constitute a serious indictment of our group’s behavior. While we spend innumerable hours criticizing the flaws of our system back home, we are not exactly so forthcoming with philanthropic action. A good example is the AMHE-GRAHN project that solidifies the initial aspiration of the Founders. It’s a golden opportunity for AMHE to create an institution that merges modern and scientific inquiry with the resourcefulness necessary in an environment with limited means. On paper such an institution should be supported by AMHE members overwhelmingly. The reality is so different.

As the coordinator of the steering committee that has been working diligently since 2016 to bring this concept to fruition, I must admit it is always an awkward question to respond to when a foreign donor asks about the degree of support from the members. Absent a fistful of generous donors that have contributed to this effort, mind you a tax-deductible gift, the membership has acted as if the project is nonexistent. Even a recent letter sent by the CEC president announcing a massive campaign to raise at least $100,000.00 has not moved the needle. What gives?

For the nth time, let me enumerate what is being established. A group of us who have a long history of benevolence have latched on the creation of a new city where knowledge will be the oxygen and the underpinning of its very existence. GRAHN, Groupe de Réflexion et d’Action pour une Haïti Nouvelle, a think-tank-cum-project-builder entity with the deliberate and distinct choice of avoiding partisan and unnecessary bickering wants to emulate the successful model of a place serving as a nexus of teaching, research, entrepreneurship. Such method has helped fuel economic growth as tried and true, be it at Silicon Valley or in India at the Infosys campus. Ambitious yet, but achievable. Achievable in the same sense that some heretofore “sub-humans” were able to band together to beat the premier army of Europe. Achievable in the same sense that such individuals had the nerve to think of and create Citadelle Laferrière. Whenever doubt sets in about our project, we only need to remind ourselves that our forefathers with far fewer means were able to move mountains. From Génipailler, near Milot, all we need to do is lift our head to see this monumental achievement.

Against this background, AMHE has seen an opportunity to join forces with other enlightened individuals to establish an ambulatory center that will address acute and chronic medical problems. We cited the above two, but we would like to extend our involvement in tackling sickle cell, glaucoma, mental health, HIV and other STDs and along the way establish “Centers of Excellence” that will be a catnip for a catchment area way beyond the immediate periphery of Génipailler. At the onset, Génipailler was nothing but an area of sugarcane fields. It now has internet access and several schools working and others in construction.  Having accessible healthcare remains a necessity of modern life. In a country with limited resources, accent will be on prevention of complications of chronic disease. Thinking outside the box will be de rigueur.

Such action is being taken to leave a legacy for future generations to enjoy and improve upon as we believe that each generation is supposed to pick up where the previous one has left off.

It’s difficult to understand the aloofness of the membership to throw its weight behind such a patriotic effort. This is similar to the initial reaction of the membership in 1996 when I proposed that the next convention be organized at the motherland, as president of the NJ Chapter with the mission to host it. History will retain that the 1997 AMHE Annual Convention, held at Club Med, done jointly with our sister society, AMH, was then the most successful in attendance and still remains among the top 3 to date. The AMHE-GRAHN endeavor is a group effort and all of us are stakeholders, and each person can play a role.

Ergo, for AMHE’s jubilee, it would be most fitting that we prove once and for all that the narrative of group failure doesn’t apply. We need to show that the sweet smell of success permeates our nares, and the bitter taste of failure is a repulsion and not a condiment for our refined taste buds.


Of course, for a tax-deductible contribution, do the following:

Go to and click on donate. Scroll down and pick AMHE-GRAHN clinic. A receipt will be automatically generated.



Reynald Altéma, MD.

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