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No healthcare for thousands of pregnant Haitians

April 4, 2024

PORT AU PRINCE, Haiti, CMC –  United Nations Agency for Sexual and Reproductive Health (UNFPA) says thousands of pregnant women in this French speaking Caribbean Community (CARICOM) member state no longer have access to health services .

“The few establishments still open are partially functioning,” said Marie Suze Albert, the national midwifery advisor for the UNFPA here.

 “Not all staff can come to work. Sometimes, midwives have to stay up to three days on site to provide care, without being able to return home,” she said.

UNFPA estimates that if the violence continues, around 3,000 pregnant women in Port-au-Prince will be deprived of essential support, of whom around 500 will likely experience complications and need emergency obstetric care, including cesarean sections.

The capital’s largest public health facility, the State University Hospital, closed, along with 12 of 15 health facilities supported by UNFPA. 

According to the agency, the remaining hospitals are overloaded and armed groups controlling main roads are disrupting supply routes for essential goods such as food, water, medicine and blood.

To reach those most in need, the UNFPA and partners deployed two mobile health teams to five displacement sites in Port-au-Prince. 

 According to Dr. Batch Jean Jumeau, the president of the Haitian Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology,  the conditions as “traumatic, the people are extremely vulnerable. As a health worker, I try to help as best I can, providing necessary care and psychologically helping displaced families […] These difficulties contribute to complications […] I have seen several women who had to give birth by cesarean section before the expected date, because of stress and high blood pressure caused by insecurity and repeated mass displacements.”

The mobile units currently welcome between 150 and 170 people every day, mainly women. They also provide food and hygiene kits, raise awareness of available services, as well as psychosocial support and emergency shelter in the event of rape and other forms of gender-based violence.

The number of displaced people has risen to more than 360,000 and half the population now faces record levels of hunger and in the midst of this disaster, more than 84,000 pregnant women do not have access to health services.

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