MSF (Doctors Without Borders) has been present in Haiti for over 19 years, including by providing 24/7 maternal health care at its clinic in Port au Prince. All contributions received between December 13-31 will be matched by ELMA Relief Foundation, a private charitable foundation that supports communities affected by disasters. If you are interested in making a contribution to help Haiti over the holiday season, protecting the health of women and children is a great way to do it. Thanks to ELMA Relief Foundation, your contribution will now go farther. For more information, read Jude Webber's article on the state of maternal health care in Haiti and MSF's role in promoting it. Click here to make your contribution.
The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Haitian and Canadian governments launched a maternal and child health initiative today, a continuation and expansion of two existing programs. Even prior to the earthquake, Haiti was a difficult place to be a mother or a young child. Through this initiative, mothers and children under five receive basic care without cost. The intent is to progressively scale up this initiative to 90 health care facilities throughout the country. The full press release follows.
There is a Haitian Proverb, “fanm se poto mitan.” It means that women are the central pole of life, they support society. Sadly, the maternal clinics in Port au Prince are not able to support the numbers of pregnant mothers seeking a safe facility to give birth in. Jacqueline Charles of the Miami Herald describes the under-resourced hospitals, their over-worked staff, and the negative impact on the health of women and children. As Paul Farmer notes in the article, ``…If you are really serious about reducing maternal mortality, you have to stay in the game a long time.'' You can read this and other Haiti related stories on the Miami Herald website. Then take a look at the short video and photos that convey the gravity of the situation.
Today is, of course, Mother's Day. In too many parts of the world, becoming a mother is a serious threat to one's health. Paul Farmer and Ophelia Dahl of Partners in Health remind us in the Washington Post that it doesn't have to be this way. We have the knowledge needed to protect pregnant women and their children. What is lacking is the will and the committment. Drawing from their experiences in Haiti, Partners in Health is applying their rights based approach in Rwanda and elsewhere. The article is copied below.