Improve the supply of reproductive health services in Haiti

1 August 2018
Family planning consultation at the maternity unit of Belle Anse

Port-au-Prince, Haiti, 1 August 2018 --- ¨For the eight months following its inauguration, the health center of Thiotte (south-east of Haiti) did not ensure any delivery, because the conditions were not reunited, "reminds its director.

"But with a new support from UNFPA, starting in January 2017, the center carries out an average of ten deliveries a month," Mickenson Tarravine said: "In June (2018), we even performed about 20 childbirths, Tarravine says, with a touch of satisfaction.

In particular, the administrator attributes this performance to the availability of appropriate human resources, solar lighting, medicines and "baby boxes": The baby boxes, which we still have in stock, encourage to come to the maternity units, Mickenson Tarravine says.

UNFPA is supporting five maternities in the Southeast Department with funding from Johnson and Johnson (J & J) to improve the delivery of reproductive health services, while supporting the availability of reproductive health services, qualified human resources, in particular professional midwives, through support to the National Institute for Higher Education for Midwives (INSFSF). Midwives trained at INSFSF are deployed throughout the country, in collaboration with the Family Health  Directorate of the Ministry of Public Health and Population.

The project supports five (5) maternities: Thiotte, Anse-à-Pitres, Belle-Anse, Marigot and Bainet. This project, which runs until 2019, aims to improve maternal health indicators in the south-eastern department, for more than fifty thousand (50,000) direct beneficiaries.

The various quarterly reports of these institutions, the mid-term evaluation and the testimonies collected in the field, confirm an upward trend in the main project indicators. The number of births increased from 144 in the second quarter of 2017 to 222 in the second quarter of 2018. As a result, the number of family planning (FP) acceptors more than doubled over the same period, from 457 to 1275.

Maxence Dominique, who came to represent his wife at a focus group at the health center of Belle-Anse on July 24, 2018, as part of the mid-term evaluation of the project, cannot say enough good things about the project’s benefits.

"The program helps the hospital to be more efficient, to give better care, staff are always available no matter the hour", testifies this father of 3 children.

Dominique, 38, has become a familiar face at the Belle-Anse maternity, since the unfailing support, by a caring presence, that they brought to his wife, Marana Lazarre, while she was facing a difficult childbirth , almost six months ago.

In Marigot, the maternity hospital performed an average of thirty deliveries a month before the project was launched, the Medical Director of the health center in this commune said. Now, she carries out about forty deliveries consecutively to the J & J project, adds Dr Misnick André.

In Bainet, the communal nurse also wants the continuity of the project, which positively influences attendance. The maternity of Bainet carries out an average of fifteen deliveries a month, Lovely Dupont underlines.

"Most of what we have in terms of reproductive health commodities and hygiene kits are provided by UNFPA," the medical director of the Anse-à-Pitres health center says, a enclave municipality sharing the border with the Dominican Republic.

¨UNFPA is the best partner of the commune¨, adds Dr Lamartine Pierre-Fils.

The South-East Department of Health (DSSE), through its Reproductive Health Officer, considers this maternal health project, led by UNFPA with funding from J & J, as one of the most comprehensive projects as the project tries to address the main problems facing health institutions.

Dr. Josette Sanon believes that, even at the end of the project, these institutions will be able to capitalize on the gains, which are in terms of materials, human resources, medicines for mobile clinics - advanced strategy to reach remote communities - and capacity building..

Maternal health indicators remain at worrying levels in Haiti. The proportion of women who gave birth in the presence of qualified staff is only 42%, while only 39% of women gave birth in a hospital facility (EMMUS VI, 2016-2017).

These figures show that there are still many challenges related to the accessibility of health services for a large part of Haitian women, with profound geographical disparities, especially in rural areas.

Story: Vario Sérant