Doctors in Haiti Embrace WiRED Learning Center Modules




iRED International’s medical and health information was not available in Haiti — until now.


This past spring WiRED International’s Board Chair Anthony Hodge and Director Gary Selnow, Ph.D., met Yen-Len Tang, M.D., a California-based physician, who was about to leave on a volunteer medical mission to Haiti.


Using a laptop and projector, Dr. Selnow showed the WiRED Learning Center’s health education program to Dr. Tang. Within a month Dr. Tang was making presentations to medical professionals in Haiti using a WiRED-donated projector and module library.


“In Haiti educational materials are always a precious resource.”

-- Dr. Tang

After the demonstration, Dr. Tang said, “I’ve been going to Haiti since 2004 and also lived there for a full year from 2005-2006. In Haiti educational materials are always a precious resource; medical books are hard to come by and very expensive.”


During his trips to Haiti, Dr. Tang lectures doctors and staff at Hôpital Albert Schweitzer, which was founded more than 50 years ago. Today it provides the highest level of medical care for several hundred thousand people in the Artibonite Valley of Haiti.


(Dr. Tang) said that the staff seemed surprised that the modules were free, and a couple of medical residents copied the entire flash drive onto their computers.

During his recent trip Dr. Tang used WiRED’s modules for his presentations at the facility’s daily medical conferences. Haitian and expatriate staff attended the sessions which were conducted in English and translated into French. Dr. Tang presented the WiRED modules’ question and answer format to the staff, and they were able to participate.


Dr. Tang said he ran the Pneumonia, Respiratory Disease and Ebola modules as examples of WiRED’s medical and health education system. He said the reaction was positive and immediate, and he added, “I left the flash drive and the projector with the medical director, Dr. Herriot Sannon, who was very appreciative. The staff had been using an old projector, and the images were getting burnt out at the edges. With this new projector the presentation took on the clear appearance of a professional production.”


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Dr. Tang reported that after his presentation several people asked him about obtaining the modules for their own use. “They remarked that they thought the idea of WiRED was very good.” He said that the staff seemed surprised that the modules were free, and a couple of medical residents copied the entire flash drive onto their computers. One doctor started using the module right after copying it, since she was studying for her exams, as well as for the U.S. medical licensing exam, and she said she appreciated having self-education study tools.


Dr. Tang said that because of political instability and recent natural disasters, consistent medical education has been challenging in Haiti. After the 2010 earthquake, the Schweitzer hospital offered medical and surgical services when many buildings and medical facilities were damaged, and members of their staffs had died.


What are the immediate plans in Haiti? Based on Dr. Tang’s advice, WiRED intends to translate into French those modules which are particularly relevant to Haitians. WiRED’s long-term goal remains constant: to provide free health education to medically underserved people all over the world.


Yen-Len Tang, MD


Since 2000 Dr. Tang has served as a pediatric physician for the Kaiser Permanente Medical Group in San Leandro and Oakland, California.


Dr. Tang said, “I have found that hospital pediatric work fits my preference of working with sick children, as it allows me to spend extended periods of time getting to know their families. The Kaiser Hospitals are special in that we serve people from many different communities and cultures who come from all around the world, and I think that it is important for our health system to embrace competency in multicultural care.”


Dr. Tang was born in Taiwan and moved to the United States when he was three years old. He received his medical degree at Johns Hopkins University and was a resident at the University of San Francisco Medical Center. After college he spent two and a half years in Botswana in the Peace Corps.


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During a leave of absence from the Kaiser Medical Group, Dr. Tang spent a year working at a charity hospital – Hôpital Albert Schweitzer, in Deschapelles, Haiti, – which serves more than 350,000 people. He now volunteers there for part of each year.


At the hospital he makes rounds on the pediatric ward, which has up to 50 patients. He said the common illnesses there are pneumonias, gastrointestinal infections, neonatal sepsis and prematurity. Dr. Tang said he believes that with very basic tools such as intravenous fluids, antibiotics and some respiratory treatments, doctors can make a tremendous impact on children outside of a hospital setting.


Dr. Tang said that in addition to his work he enjoys rock climbing, surfing and skateboarding, as well as painting portraits, making hardwood furniture and cooking.



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