I have now returned to my home base in Seattle, and there is no doubt that autumn is in the air. The leaves are beginning to change, there is a nip in the air and Starbucks has ushered us firmly into pumpkin spice season. It’s a far cry from the heavy heat and visits from hummingbirds that I left in Haiti last week.
One of my very favorite aspects of our programming there is also one of the newest. In February of this year, Midwives for Haiti transitioned from our mobile clinic system, where communities were visited by a midwife just once a month, to a static community clinic model. Under this new system, eight communities around the Central Plateau now receive weekly care from our midwives. The Ministry of Health has graciously provided clinic space, and Midwives for Haiti supplies the woman-power.
Being able to provide weekly care is paramount in reducing negative outcomes in pregnancy worldwide. The World Health Organization’s most recent guidelines, issued in 2016, recommend eight prenatal appointments in an average pregnancy. This is double the previous number of visits found in the old guidelines. According to the WHO, “Eight or more contacts for antenatal care can reduce perinatal deaths by up to 8 per 1000 births when compared to 4 visits” (2016).
For us in Haiti, this is hugely significant, due to the extremely high rates of preeclampsia, as well as other perinatal complications. This potentially deadly syndrome is characterized by elevated blood pressure, but can be treated if caught early. Our community clinic midwives also report feeling more connected to their clients, and are able to form deeper relationships. Relationships are the very heart of midwifery, and having the time to get to know the mothers in our care is invaluable.
The clinics have been hugely successful. Our clinic in Sal Piet, for example, has gone from seeing 16 clients a month to seeing over 100! The other clinics have also reported great increases, in most cases doubling their caseload. Some mothers walk over ten hours round trip to be cared for, over mountains and across dangerous rivers. They value our care, and we value them!
Our community clinic midwives are amazing and so dedicated. They work alone, or with a MFH volunteer, in very difficult circumstances. The clinics are crowded and hot, with flies and mosquitoes everywhere. Electricity is intermittent, and in some cases, not available at all. While we do our best to have all essential medications available, Haiti is Haiti and sometimes this is simply not possible.
Assistance for these vital clinics is always welcome and much needed. You can donate here, and of course, all donations are tax deductible for US citizens. https://midwivesforhaiti.org/donate/
Thank you for your kind for your support, in every way!
New Executive Director