News

When midwives make a difference in the reproductive health of women and girls

21 November 2016

Beaumont (Grand´Anse), November 17, 2016 --- "I was twisting in pain this Friday, November 11. Fortunate coincidence: Miss Lizaire visited me that day. She took care of me. I gave birth to a baby named Sonaldo, a boy. I encourage young people of the commune of Beaumont who are pregnant to visit Miss Lizaire¨.

Emmanuella Jeanty, 31, tells her story joyfully. This is not a commonplace story, given the lack of health facilitaties in Beaumont, one of the communes of the department of Grand'Anse (southwest of Haiti) affected by Hurricane Matthew. The only hospital in this municipality was completely destroyed by the hurricane.

Even before the hurricane, life was rough in Beaumont, especially for women and babies, says Jeanty. ¨Now, the situation has worsened. There is no hospital, there is not even vaccine to give to babies ¨.

Miss Kétia Lizaire, of which Ms. Jeanty boasts professionalism, patience and generosity, is one of the 10 midwives deployed, after the hurricane,  by UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, in coordination with the Ministry of Public Health and population, in Grand'Anse and Nippes, in order to strengthen the care-taking of pregnant women and girls as well as newborn babies.

¨I create activities, so that residents of Beaumont know there is a nurse-midwife in the area, so that people attend the priest dispensary where I offer prenatal consultations, because the home birth delivery rate will necessarily increase after the Hurricane, says Miss Lizaire.

In two weeks, this nurse-midwife already has, in addition to her daily work at the dispensary "La Providence", animated 3 mobile clinics, carried out about thirty home visits to identify pregnant women, discuss with them, and help them give  birth if necessary. Also she has visited traditional birth attendants or matrons and conducted several outreach sessions in the informal trade to encourage women to go to the clinic for prenatal consultations.

In Jérémie, capital of the department of Grand'Anse, Miss Magdala Bourdeau is one of the two midwives deployed at the Saint-Antoine hospital. The two midwives ensure the care-taking of two thirds of the patients received daily.

"Since November 3, we have carried out several deliveries and received several types of pathologies such as pre-eclampsia, severe anemia, high blood pressure and premature pregnancies," stresses Miss Bourdeau.

On the day of our visit to the maternity unit of Jéréme, we met a 16-year-old girl who had just given birth to a girl whose first name she had not yet chosen.

Guirlene´s husband is just as young. Sittting by her bed, he looked lost. He evoked an accident to explain the pregnancy. "As young people, we were playing, but this was going to have a serious turn," he precises.

In Haiti, 14% of adolescent girls have already begun their reproductive life, while 11% have at least one child.

For almost a month now, UNFPA has been working with the Government and the humanitarian community to ensure that the urgent needs of more than 546,000 women and girls are addressed after the Hurricane.

The Fund focuses on nearly 13,650 pregnant women who will give birth in the next three months in an environment lacking reproductive health services.

Among other initiatives, UNFPA provides 261 reproductive health kits to cover the needs of 390,000 people in the four departments most affected by the Hurricane.

But the implementation of its 6-month emergency plan stumbles on the weak mobilization of donors, the UNFPA Representative in Haiti said. The plan was only funded at 24%, one month after the hurricane, recalled Marielle Sander.