A better tomorrow for Haiti

A better tomorrow for Haiti

PHHP opens public health laboratory in Haiti

By Jill Pease

Michael G. Perri, dean of the College of Public Health and Health Professions, welcomes Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter to the opening ceremony of the UF Public Health Laboratory in Gressier, Haiti./Photo by Dr. Andrew Kane

The College of Public Health and Health Professions has opened a public health field laboratory in Haiti that will allow UF researchers to work with Haitian colleagues to quickly identify and contain infectious disease outbreaks. Jimmy Carter, the 39th president of the United States, and his wife Rosalynn Carter, joined UF and Haitian partners at an opening ceremony Nov. 8.

“The laboratory is one part of our comprehensive approach to improving public health in Haiti,” said Michael G. Perri, Ph.D., dean of the College of Public Health and Health Professions. “The lab also provides important opportunities for research and education collaborations with the university and Haiti’s Ministry of Public Health and Population.”

The University of Florida Public Health Laboratory is a culmination of efforts led by the College of Public Health and Health Professions along with non-governmental organizations FISH Ministries and the Christianville Foundation, and with supporters in the private sector, including Rotary International and the KORE Foundation. Edsel Redden, an associate for environmental and global health international development in the college’s department of environmental and global health, played a key role in bringing together non-governmental organizations to work with UF on the development of the laboratory, part of UF’s “A Better Tomorrow for Haiti” initiative. The U.S. Department of Defense Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center provided funding for most of the lab’s equipment.

In remarks at the opening ceremony, Carter congratulated the university and called on UF and Haitian researchers to join the Carter Center’s fight to eliminate the mosquitoborne diseases malaria and lymphatic filariasis, also known as elephantiasis, a seriously disfiguring disease that affects 120 million people worldwide.

Several UF researchers are already using the resources of the public health laboratory, which is based in Gressier. J. Glenn Morris, M.D., M.P.H., and Afsar Ali, Ph.D., study the epidemiology, evolution and transmission of cholera. Bernard Okech, Ph.D., investigates anti-malaria drug resistance and breeding habitats for mosquitoes that carry malaria and dengue fever. Andrew Kane, Ph.D., studies aquatic pathology and toxicology.