Why? - Midwives For Haiti



With a population of 11 million, Haiti is a beautiful country with strong traditions of resistance and solidarity. Haiti is also the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Much of the country is rural and underdeveloped with a lack of infrastructure, environmental degradation, and no waste removal. Natural disasters such as the devastating 2010 earthquake, which claimed the lives of a quarter million people, have further impeded progress. There is also limited access to clean water, medical facilities or emergency transportation.
While there has been an increase in urbanization and centralization in Haiti’s capital of Port-Au-Prince, about 55% of Haitian live rurally (UNICEF 2012). Due to geographic remoteness and socioeconomic status, many mothers in Haiti do not receive the care they require. In fact, only about 25% of births in rural Haiti are attended by a skilled provider. (UNICEF 2013)
As a result, Haiti is the most dangerous country in the Western Hemisphere in which to give birthMost of these maternal deaths are caused by eclampsia, sepsis, and postpartum hemorrhage (bleeding). In other words, most of these deaths are preventable.
Haiti also has the highest rates of infant and under-five mortality in the Western Hemisphere. Children who have lost their mothers are up to 10 times more likely to die prematurely than those who have not. -UNFPA


“Skilled attendance at all births is considered to be the single most critical intervention for ensuring safe motherhood.” -UNFPA
Due to a lack of resources, infrastructure, and workforce attrition, Haiti has a severe shortage of skilled care providers. According to UNFPA (2014), there is one doctor for 8,000 inhabitants, one nurse for 6,000 inhabitants, and one midwife for 50,000 inhabitants. After the devastating earthquake in 2010, the government midwifery school closed and an already dire shortage of healthcare providers became worse while there continued to be a significant emigration of health workers.

Training Haitian nurses to become Skilled Birth Attendants is critical in reducing maternal and infant mortality. Although Haiti has made great strides in reducing maternal mortality since the global implementation of Millenium Development Goal (MDG) 5, Haiti needed an estimated 563 more Skilled Birth Attendants to reduce maternal mortality by 75%. This 2015 target was missed by a long shot.

The new Sustainable Development Goals have been set. Concentrated and sustained efforts by Haiti’s Ministry of Public Health and Population, the new government midwifery school, and organizations like Midwives For Haiti are essential to build health worker capacity within the country.

 “Ensuring skilled attendance at all births, backed by emergency obstetric care when needed, would reduce maternal deaths by 75%. That figure rises to about 90% if skilled health personnel play a full role during pregnancy, childbirth, and after birth.” –UNFPA


Every woman has a right to quality health care and a safe birth. Ensuring safe motherhood means healthier children and stronger communities. When a mother dies in childbirth:
  • Her children have a ten times greater risk of dying prematurely. (UNFPA)
  • The risk for a continued cycle of poverty for her family increases. This risk is even higher for her female children.
  • The number of orphaned or abandoned children in Haiti can only be guessed. Prior to the 2010 earthquake it was estimated to be 380,000. After the quake the number at least doubled.
  • The contribution she made to the community and local economy vanishes.
By ensuring that all mothers in Haiti receive prenatal, delivery, and postpartum care by Skilled Birth Attendants, more mothers will be there to care for their families and break the cycle of poverty. Communities and a developing country will continue to be built around the strength and industry of women. 
 “We don’t want mothers to die. That’s why we’re here.” -Nadene Brunk, Founder