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Celebrate Solutions: Using Local Resources to Improve Maternal Health in Haiti

By: Yousra Yusuf, Women Deliver

In Haiti, pregnancy and childbirth are often fatal; Haiti has the highest maternal, under-5 and infant mortality rate in the Western Hemisphere. Many local civil society organizations have joined the efforts of international and government agencies to gradually improve health conditions, one healthy delivery at a time. One such organization is Haiti Village Health (HVH). In the past year, this organization has launched a pre- and postnatal program which has provided healthcare to over 100 women.

For the mothers of Haiti, these programs have proven to be life-saving. Currently, about one in 44 women in Haiti die during childbirth, as compared to one in 4300 women in developed countries. One significant barrier to accessing health care is a severe lack of health infrastructure. Many women are also forced to work physically stressful jobs, even while they are pregnant, to support their families.

Despite the statistics, a report by UNFPA has recognized that Haitian maternal health initiatives such as Haiti Village Health are gradually improving health outcomes. Based in Northern Haiti, Haiti Village Health aims to provide health care to the region by employing local medical personnel. One of its goals is to improve maternal health in the region through programs geared towards providing care before, during, and after childbirth.

In Fall 2011, Haiti Village Health implemented a comprehensive program to care for pregnant women. This program involves providing follow-up care and safe birthing kits to pregnant women, and training Traditional Birth Attendants. As part of the program, pregnant women receive maternal health education, antenatal assessments and medical history evaluations, and also receive necessary vitamins and supplements. Women who have been pregnant for six months are also provided with a safe-birthing kit to be used during delivery. In addition to increasing mothers’ access to healthcare, the organization also works to increase local employment by training local women as Traditional Birth Attendants. So far, the program has helped 100 women in the Bas Limbe region, and Haiti Village Health plans to expand the program to reach 500 women within the next year.

A mother’s health is directly related to the health of her children.  Thanks to the women’s programs launched by Haiti Village Health, healthcare in Haiti is moving in the right direction to save mothers' and children's lives. 

To learn more about Haiti Village Health, please click here.

Flickr photo via waterdotorg.

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