Qualified midwives adapted to meet Haiti's needs in maternal and child health

22 Février 2018

Port-au-Prince, February 22, 2018 --- The Minister of Public Health and Population, Marie Gréta Roy Clément, inaugurated on February 21, 2018, the new premises of the Midwifery Training Institute (INSFSF), located on the site of the Hospital of the State University of Haiti, in Port-au-Prince.

This permanent building, covering an area of 1,000 square meters and accommodating 160 students, is co-funded by the Government of Canada - whose Minister for International Development and Francophonie, Marie-Claude Bibeau, participated in the ceremony - the Mexican Government and MINUJUSTH.

"The time has come now for our midwifery learners to enjoy the benefits of knowledge in a calm and serene way, but also in optimal conditions of physical well-being," said the Director of INSFSF.

Quettly Chevalier was referring to the earthquake of January 12, 2010, which had damaged the former school, forcing students to take classes under tents, before UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, funded in 2013 the construction of new earthquake-resistant buildings in the vicinity of the Isaïe Jeanty maternity ward, equipped the establishment and financed its operation.

The Minister of Public Health thanked UNFPA for its unfailing commitment, from the implementation of the training curriculum, going through the operation, to the construction of the temporary works.

"Our goal is to train midwives qualified and adapted to the needs of different regions of the country in maternal and child health," Dr. Gréta Roy Clément said, while emphasizing that the EMMUS-VI survey indicators encourage us in this path.

"In a country like Haiti with high rates of maternal mortality and teenage pregnancy, the need for professional midwives is crucial," UNFPA's Representative in Haiti said. "That is why UNFPA in Haiti joins the government in its reproductive health strategy and supports the role of midwives," Marielle Sander added.

The World Health Organization has estimated that the number of midwives needed to significantly reduce the rate of maternal deaths is 2,200. Thanks to the INSFSF, this gap is being filled. Between 2000 and 2016, 421 midwives were trained and 156 midwives are currently in training.

In Haiti, the maternal mortality rate (in 2015) is 359 deaths per 100,000 live births. However, although this rate is still high, there has been some improvement in teenage pregnancy. The percentage of teenagers who have already started their reproductive life has indeed decreased from 14% in 2012 (EMMUS-V) to 10% in 2016-2017 (EMMUS-VI). Regarding the birth rate in a health facility, it rose from 36% in 2012 to 39% in 2016-2017. As for the infant mortality rate, it decreased slightly from 59 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2012 (EMMUS-V) to 58 per 1,000 live births (EMMUS-VI). 

By:  Vario Sérant

Photo: UNFPA