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UCLA crowdfunding campaign to promote healthcare in Haiti

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Despite the current problems regarding healthcare delivery in the United States, we enjoy a high level of healthcare encompassing virtually all medical specialties. Many nations around the globe have a far more primitive level of healthcare. One such nation is Haiti, which suffers from a tremendous burden of arthritis, lupus, and other rheumatic diseases. At present, there are only two rheumatologists to serve the nation’s entire population of more than 10 million. Due to a lack of access to a well-trained specialist, many patients with these conditions are misdiagnosed or remain untreated.

To address this problem, UCLA Health System announced on May 15 that the University of California Haiti Initiative was joining forces with the State University of Haiti Medical School and physicians at UCLA to train a new Haitian rheumatologist at UCLA Medical Center, Santa Monica, and in Thousand Oaks. Dr. Wilciane-Claire Belliot, a capable young physician from Haiti, has been selected for the training, which will prepare her to care for patients at Haiti’s busiest, public teaching hospital. In addition, the training will help her establish Haiti’s first rheumatology clinic. After completion of her training, Dr. Belliot will serve as a professor at the State University of Haiti's School of Medicine where she will help train Haiti’s next generation of physicians.

UCLA Spark, an online crowdfunding platform for innovative projects that is underway at UCLA, will host a 30-day campaign beginning May 15. It has the goal of raising $5,000 to bring Dr. Belliot to UCLA this summer for a portion of her training; she will have an opportunity to work side-by-side with some of the world’s best rheumatologists at UCLA. “This is a great opportunity to help fill a major medical need in Haiti since few health resources in the country are currently targeting rheumatic diseases,” noted UCLA rheumatologist Dr. Rebecca Gordon, the project’s faculty lead. Funding raised beyond $5,000 during the crowdfunding campaign will be earmarked for the establishment of Haiti’s first rheumatology clinic.

After returning to Haiti following the training, Dr. Belliot will participate in continuous medical training from visiting rheumatologists throughout the University of California. Furthermore, she will receive remote lectures and maintain a close mentorship with Dr. Gordon. “We hope to raise funds to help bring Dr. Belliot to UCLA, including covering her flight, housing, food, transport, visa fee and short-term health insurance,” explained Sophia Lykke, Chapter Director of the UC Haiti Initiative at UCLA.

The campaign dialogue can be followed on Twitter at www.twitter.com/UCHAITIorg, and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/UCHAITIorg. For additional information, to view a video, and support the project, click on this link.

The University of California Haiti Initiative connects leaders from the University of California and the State University of Haiti to promote higher education and development in Haiti and California. The initiative has the goal of building on prior successes in pediatric, emergency medicine, and microbiology training. Each of the 10 UC campuses, including UCLA, has a UCHI student chapter. The Haitian Country Director works in Haiti to coordinate with colleagues at the State University of Haiti. The initiative is administratively housed at the UCLA Center for World Health.

UCLA notes that its Division of Rheumatology is ranked among the Top 10 across the nation by U.S. News & World Report. UCLA rheumatologists provide consultation, diagnosis and treatment for simple to complex rheumatic diseases, including general rheumatology and arthritis, lupus, scleroderma, myositis, gout and osteoarthritis. In addition to providing a full range of advanced and effective conventional therapies, UCLA integrates complementary methods such as acupuncture. The division also has an active research and training program. For more information or to make an appointment, visit the website: www.rheumatology.ucla.edu, or call 310-825-2448.

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