Training Skilled Birth Attendants in Haiti


Maternal Health

Coinciding with the three year anniversary of the devastating 2010 earthquake in Haiti, Direct Relief announced a $30,000 grant this week to be used for a year-long training program to enhance the skills of 180 birth attendants working in Haiti.

This program will result in safer deliveries for thousands of women and reduce the overall maternal mortality rate in Haiti while promoting the belief that within every healthy and gentle birth, there is a long-lasting, positive benefit to women and children and the development of their community.

The need for skilled birth attendants in Haiti is high. Childbirth is the leading cause of death for women in Haiti. There are 670 maternal deaths per 100,000 in the country—the highest in the Western Hemisphere. Additionally, more than 75 percent of births take place at home using birth attendants, who often have little formal training. Their role on the front lines of deliveries means they are critical health care providers and crucial to community restoration efforts.

This grant from Direct Relief will be provided to Mother Health International, a nonprofit organization dedicated to respond and provide relief to pregnant women and children in areas of disaster, war and extreme economic poverty. They are committed to reducing maternal and infant mortality rates by creating culturally competent, sustainable birth centers using the Traditional Midwifery Model of Care and by providing ongoing education and training to traditional birth attendants and midwives while respecting Haitian culture and customs.

This year-long training course will provide more than 100 hours of education to each student utilizing lectures, workshops, hands-on skills training, and videos to teach the birth attendants essential skills such as assessing pregnancy and prenatal complications; performing safe deliveries; and proper post-natal care.

The 180 birth attendants working in these six communities attend a combined total of 3,000 births per year. Therefore, it is essential that they have the proper training to handle a normal delivery as well as any complications that may arise during the pregnancy or delivery. Unfortunately, the majority of birth attendants in Haiti have not ever received this training or continuing training in the area.

This program will take place at birthing centers in the communities of: Jacmel, Port au Prince, Ouanamithe, Port de Paix, La Tortue, and Pignon.

Direct Relief has already provided the birthing centers in these communities with the upgraded equipment needed to care for complicated deliveries and perform caesarian sections. Now the birth attendants working in the area will be trained to recognize the need for these enhanced medical activities while also giving them the skills they need to perform safe in-home deliveries as well.

The education these women receive will not only lower the maternal mortality rates throughout the country, but will also enable them to advance their careers as birth attendants and midwives through this accredited training program.

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