Fiona Stephenson, Clinical Nurse Specialist and founding member of the Haiti Spinal Cord Injury Working Group and Co-ordinator of the Haiti Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) Database presented an inspiring and insightful webinar on the context of violence as the leading cause of spinal cord injuries in Haiti. Fiona, who is also a Co-Founder of the International Network of Spinal Cord Injury Nurses and the International Spinal Cord Society (ISCoS), discussed in her webinar the challenges to providing basic life sustaining care and rehabilitation for gunshot injury survivors in a resource poor environment. Mortality and medical complications are extremely high, skill and extensive despite the great skill, creative mindsets and phenomenal willpower of the health care teams on the ground. The earthquake that shattered Haiti in 2010 has taken a further toll on a very rudimentary health care infrastructure. Gun violence is not abating. Despite much innovation and legislative changes, people who live with the disabling consequences of violence still find it difficult to find support, accessible environments and opportunities for full societal participation and inclusion. Many promising facilities are threatened by closure due to a lack of funding. But despite all adversity, there were many stories of hope, human spirit and resilience, of people pulling together and becoming advocates for their own life, against gun violence and for better support services and health care.
Fiona’s webinar presentation can be viewed here. We will add an audiopodcast shortly.
Dr Damien Williams, School of Medicine, University of St Andrews gave a very nuanced and greatly reflective response to Fiona Stephenson’s presentation.
If you would like to learn more about gun violence in Haiti and its disabling consequences, we recommend to purchase the book ‘Gun Violence, Disability and Recovery’, edited by Cate Buchanan, Director of the Surviving Gun Violence Project. The book is available as an ebook or paperback on the organisation’s website.