Nelson Lab Teaches COTS Course in Haiti

Nelson lab travels to Haiti to educate students at the Université d’État d’Haiti Faculté de Médicine et de Pharmacie in Port au Prince on water-borne diseases.

In May 2018, Eric Nelson, M.D., Ph.D, and members of his lab traveled to Haiti to teach an intensive one-week course on the management of large-scale water-borne disease outbreaks at the Université d’État d’Haiti Faculté de Médicine et de Pharmacie in Port au Prince.  The course, which was based on an updated version of the Cholera Outbreak Training and Shigellosis (COTS) program, was attended by 120 third-year medical students and 20 fourth year biological science students.

Initially, Nelson developed COTS as an educational program for clinicians in Bangladesh, providing training in both clinical and public health concerns regarding cholera, Shigella, and other diarrheal diseases. This year, Nelson ran the program with Molly Klarman, MPH, a global and environmental health specialist, along with his lab manager Patricia Rodriguez and graduate research assistant Ashton Creasy.

The course goals aimed to establish foundational knowledge in the science, medicine, and public health outbreak response of diarrheal disease management.  Daily lectures on topics such as the clinical management of cholera and operational management during an outbreak were complimented by breakout sessions in basic microscopy, epidemiological exercises, electronic survey development and role-playing in a mock cholera treatment center.  One overwhelmingly popular highlight was the session spent in the lab training on the microscopes and trying out rapid cholera tests.

The annual course has potential to grow into a key capacity building activity towards achieving the third part of Haiti’s strategic cholera response strategy: elimination.