A cholera epidemic, one of the highest malnutrition and maternal mortality rates in Latin America and an ill-equipped health sector are not putting off a new generation of Haitian doctors born and trained in the Caribbean nation.

Dr Mariline Menager is one of 14 people selected from 238 who applied for a place on the medical residency programme at Haiti’s new Mirebalais University Hospital.

She belongs to a new crop of doctors hoping to fill the acute shortage of doctors in Haiti and take the lead in reviving a health sector still struggling to recover from the massive earthquake that flattened the capital Port-au-Prince in January 2010.

“I prefer to be in Haiti than anywhere else in the world. Haiti has more needs and we don’t have enough doctors to cover the health needs of the population,” Dr Menager, a first-year medical resident at the Mirebalais University Hospital, told Thomson Reuters Foundation in a telephone interview.

“We are rebuilding the country, and I can contribute to that. Part of rebuilding is the construction of a health system. Haiti is a country that needs to rebuild in every sense of the word, in terms of education, health,” said Dr Menager from the Mirebalais University Hospital, 30 miles (50 km) north of Port-au-Prince.

With few resources, career options and low salaries, Haiti grapples to attract and retain doctors in its public hospitals. Around 80 percent of all doctors trained in Haiti leave within five years of graduation to practice abroad, often in the United States and Canada, in search of better pay and working conditions and career development opportunities, according to the Boston-based medical charity Partners In Health (PIH).

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