Dear Friends of Midwives For Haiti-
Each year, people from around the world come to work with Midwives For Haiti because they share the idea that “all women deserve the care of a midwife to help them have safe pregnancies.” This annual report is a snapshot of what this teamwork accomplished in 2016. It is a success story I am proud to share with you.
The bulk of the day-to-day work of caring for pregnant women in Haiti is done by 52 wonderful and dedicated Haitian employees. These are the midwives providing care around the clock but also the team that supports them: the managers who ensure medications are stocked and data is collected, the teachers, the translators, the drivers, the security guards and the house staff. These 52 people are the heart of Midwives For Haiti and they work tirelessly because they know their efforts help save the lives of their neighbors and friends.
Not only in maternal and infant health in Haiti improving because of our collective efforts, but our staff of 52 can feed their children and extended families, they can send their children to school and to college, they are the persons their families turn to in medical emergencies or for help with funeral costs. Their work helps save lives, but their livelihood depends on this work.
When I get discouraged with the obstacles we face in getting where we want to go, I sit with these friends and am inspired by their resilience, their ability to support each other, and their faith. They have what we need in our country back home- a community that cares “for the least of these.” That is enough inspiration for me to push on.
Our staff, and the many volunteers who have already made the trip to Haiti this year, have been working on what I hope will be many successes of 2017. Here are some of the happenings and plans for the coming months:
- Education Program: Thirty-three students have started their studies to become skilled birth attendants. They are taught by our experienced Haitian teacher, Limone Clerveaux, and our new Education Director, Cindy Siegel. This year we have been able to add an experienced midwife from Great Britain, Perrine Stock, to work with our students and preceptors in the hospital. Because our teaching staff is now larger and more experienced, this class should be our best yet.
- New Postpartum Home Visit Program: Our experience at the Carrie Wortham Birth Center in Cabestor, a remote rural community, taught us how important home visits were for women and babies in the first few days after birth. During home visits our midwives catch problems before they become life-threatening. We have now added a home visit program for women delivering at St. Therese Hospital in Hinche. This project is run by our international midwife volunteers and in its first week has found women and babies needing urgent medical care. The home visits are made by our volunteer midwives and we need more volunteers to sign up for later this year.
- Strengthening Existing Health Infrastructure: The maternity wards at St. Therese Hospital are teeming with pregnant women. The hospital is understaffed and women are not always seen in a timely manner. For many pregnancy complications, time is an enemy and waiting for care can be waiting for disaster. At the end of last year, we created a triage, the first of its kind at the hospital. In January, we hired Mackensia Fontaine as our triage midwife, a graduate of the MFH school who also recently completed the university midwifery training available in Port-au-Prince. As our triage midwife, she now ensures that women are seen and evaluated soon after they arrive at the hospital. This is a big improvement for the hospital and the patients.
- More Midwives, More Places: We will continue to operate our Mobile Prenatal Clinic and rural birth center. Last year, these projects delivered 8,709 maternity care visits to some of the poorest women in Haiti who have the least access to care. Because of the skill and attention of our midwives last year, 352 women were referred to higher care or transported for emergency treatment. Lives will continue to be saved in 2017.
No matter how well we plan, this year is going to have its surprises. Some will be challenges and others opportunities. With the support of our staff, volunteers and donors, I am confident we can meet the challenges and use the opportunities to further our mission.
We hope you enjoy our 2016 Annual Impact Report.
Nadene Brunk, CNM, MSN
Executive Director + Founder
Midwives For Haiti