Direct Relief is working with its partners, Haiti Hospital Appeal and Konbit Sante, to reduce the maternal and infant mortality rates in northern Haiti through their recently launched campaign – Haiti: Make Births Safe.
This work in Haiti is critical as 63 percent of births in the country take place without medical support – a contributing factor to Haiti having the highest rate of infant and maternal mortality in the Western Hemisphere.
By increasing the number of births that are attended by a skilled personnel and increasing access to emergency care in case of obstetric or newborn complications, most of these deaths could be avoided.
The program’s multi-faceted approach includes improving staffing and training at major public and private birthing facilities as well as making sure the facilities and caregivers have the necessary supplies. It also enables community health workers to see the women in their homes and prenatal mobile health clinics and provides safe birthing kits to women and boost community capacity to respond, among other strategies.
The Haiti: Make Births Safe campaign is in partnership with the Haitian Ministry of Health and is supported by Direct Relief. Since the earthquake hit in 2010, Direct Relief has donated more than $7 million in medical aid to Haiti Hospital Appeal and Konbit Sante to help more women access health care.
Beyond medicines and supplies, Direct Relief helped Haiti Hospital Appeal launch their mobile maternity outreach services as well as fully equip a operating theater last year which has proven invaluable for hundreds of women in Cap Haitian who need C-sections. Another grant allowed them to set up a phone bank and ambulance service for women facing serve obstetrical emergencies.
Direct Relief and Konbit Sante have worked together in the past to train traditional birth attendants as well as establish a dispatch and transportation system so mothers with an emergency can get to the hospital.
In the last year, the hospitals supported by these two organizations cared for more than 5,000 women, children and babies. Their efforts are working. More women are giving birth safely in a hospital – 37 percent, up from 25 percent just a few years ago.
Currently, the Haiti: Make Births Safe campaign is offering anyone who supports the campaign an opportunity to win a trip to the set of Downton Abbey and meet leading actress Laura Carmichael (Lady Edith).