Nadene Brunk Eads School News and a New Opportunity – Midwives For Haiti

Nadene Brunk Eads School News and a New Opportunity

Dear Ones,

We at Midwives for Haiti hope that you and your families are all healthy and well. This has been a most challenging summer for MFH, just as it has been for everyone. The entire world has been faced with unprecedented trials, and we have all had to adjust in how we choose to move through this changed world.

Midwives for Haiti has always been dedicated to improving maternal and infant mortality rates in Haiti. As you know, the main way we live this vision is through our post graduate program in advanced maternity care, the Nadene Brunk Eads School. Over the past few years, the program has expanded, in both quantitative and qualitative ways.

The program itself has increased in length to eighteen months, and now follows the standards for midwifery education as set out by the International Confederation of Midwives. Our Director of Education, Daisy, and our Head Teacher, Miss Limone, have spent countless hours researching and integrating most recent best practices and protocols, ensuring that our students’ learning experience is both comprehensive, and on par with their international colleagues. We accept only the absolute best applicants; over 100 students applied for only 24 spots. Their experience and aptitude are thoroughly evaluated, by both written and hands on entrance exams. Our students know the obstacles their communities face and are dedicated to change in the maternal/child health sphere.

Over 30% of trained birth attendants working in Haiti today are graduates of our program, and we have an 80% employment rate for our graduates. Programs and Partnerships Director Mariot works tirelessly on our graduates’ behalf, networking with different healthcare facilities throughout Haiti.

And it is working! In 2006, when MFH began, 75% of women delivered without a skilled birth attendant. This rate has decreased to 58.8%, according to UNICEF and the WHO. This has led to an overall national decrease in maternal death rate from 500 deaths per 100,000 women seven years ago, to 480 per 100,000 in 2019. The infant mortality rate has similarly decreased, from 56.8 deaths per 1000 births, to 49.5, as per World Bank figures.

And on a local level, in 2019, Hospital Ste Therese (whose maternity ward is staffed almost entirely by our graduates, and is our main clinical training site for the students) has seen a marked decrease in both maternal and infant deaths in the past two years: the maternal rate has dropped from 6.1 deaths per 1000 to 5 deaths per 1000, and the infant rate has gone from 64 to 61 deaths per 1000 births. This is an incredible reduction!
So, our impact is evident, both in Hinche, and throughout Haiti. Our school is the backbone of all our programing, and this cohort is poised to be the best changemakers yet!

However, the Covid-19 pandemic has severely impacted our ability to provide this vital program. Haitian schools have been given the go ahead to re-open on 17 August. Government regulations are similar in Haiti to those being enacted in other parts of the world, ie masks are required and social distancing must be enforced. The Haitian government is taking these restrictions seriously and has promised that inspectors will be making the rounds to educational facilities, ensuring that guidelines are being followed.

We have already put together a rotating schedule for the students, so that only half of them will be in the classroom at any one time. And, thanks to Sarah Taylor, a longtime volunteer, our students have tablets, so some semblance of distance learning has been ongoing throughout our closure, although some of our students do not have access to either power or internet. And we have been able to procure fabric masks and N95s for the students, the former for everyday classroom use, and the latter for clinical rotations.

However, we are facing a huge barrier to restarting school: our classroom is simply too small to comply with social distancing guidelines. We have investigated alternative locations, but nothing is available in town. So, we have decided to build an outdoor classroom. This new structure is essentially a supported roof, connecting our existing main building to our outbuildings, outlined in green on this schematic:

This outdoor space will have enough room for our two groups of 12 students to rotate safely through, alternating classroom instruction with clinical instruction in the hospital and other sites.

The safety of our students is our very highest priority. While we can only mitigate the risks, not eliminate them, this space will both conform to government standards, and protect our pupils, as best we can, from a potentially deadly disease.

This is clearly an unanticipated expense, like so many others that have arisen for so many people. The cost for the structure is $3000. Won’t you please help us in our efforts? With your help, we can move forward with our educational program, and continue our efforts to reduce maternal and infant mortality in Haiti.

Friends who give over $250 will be listed on a plaque commemorating their donation, in our beautiful new classroom space! If you would like to give in honor or in memory of a loved one, please let us know and we will list their names as well. Here is a real chance to give to a specific and necessary project.

We thank you so much in advance for your kindness and generosity! Together we will continue to make a huge difference in the lives of mothers and babies in Haiti.
Love always,
Jane Drichta
Executive Director
Midwives for Haiti

Donate online or send a check to Midwives For Haiti,

7130 Glen Forest Ave. Suite 101, Richmond, VA 23226.