Thursday, February 10, 2011

Motherhood in Haiti: True fight to give life and to survive

One of the primary reason health care services have been very deficient in Haiti over the past decades is a lack of human resources in the medical field. Care has been provided on a shoestring around the country, but the recent catastrophic earthquake has hindered tremendous efforts that have been made to improve the health system of Haiti. Health services are mostly centralized in urban areas. With road and transportation infrastructure issues, patients can hardly be transported from their village to a hospital. This health-care access deficiency leads inhabitants to turn towards popular and cultural beliefs, traditional and voodoo healers. Haitian females of childbearing age lack access to evidence-based health care which prevents them from having control over their basic health services decisions. Indeed, About 75% of the 350 000 annual childbirths, are home deliveries without any medical assistance. As a consequence, infant and maternal mortality rates are the highest in the western hemisphere. Based on data collected during our 2009 survey on health care services in Haiti, the health system was showing steady improvement in maternity services capacity. Unfortunately, the massive earthquake of magnitude 7.0 in January 12, 2010 that devastated Haiti by killing over 230 000 people and leaving more than 1.5 million homeless, has greatly hindered the efforts of the government, private sector and NGOs working in the health sector to decentralize health services, and provide improved care to the population. While waiting for the Haitian authorities to re-build the country, the health sector needs urgent support in the short term as well as long term care facilities to assist the population in their medical needs. Since the earthquake, the pregnancy rate has widely increased; meanwhile health care services are limited or concentrated mostly in the cities. Health services authorities in Haiti need  to take very short term actions regarding staffing strategies and re-structuring health services there, especially during this on-going emergency to support pregnant women facing huge difficulties accessing health care.

(Taken from my paper:
Post-Earthquake health challenges in Haiti: Emergency plan dealing with maternity care assistance.)

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