Friday, October 14, 2022

Decreasing Maternal Mortality in Haiti

Happy mother and child in Alma Mater Hospital
Obstetrics Unit

Haiti has the highest maternal mortality rate (529 deaths /100,000 live births) in the Western Hemisphere. Approximately one in eighty women will eventually die of a complication in pregnancy. These deaths are preventable because most Haitian women, particularly in rural areas, deliver at home without the benefit of a skilled birth attendant. Difficult mountainous terrain and the cost of medical care also prevent many rural women from accessing a hospital. 

Over a decade ago, Medicine For Peace partnered with the Alma Mater Hospital (AMH) to initiate a long-term women’s health program in rural Haiti. AMH provides health care for a population of approximately 130,000 people. The hospital is a 24 hour a day, 80-bed facility that houses an active obstetric unit staffed by physicians, nurses, a midwife, and community health workers. 

The obstetrics unit assists in the delivery of more than 700 births per year, and is capable of handling most obstetric emergencies, including performing Caesarian sections.

The focus of the Medicine For Peace maternal health initiative is to bring all expectant women to hospital for basic and emergency obstetric care. 

MFP Director, Dr. Michael Viola, said, “We have developed strong partnerships in every country where we have worked. Our relationship with Alma Mater Hospital has been a great benefit to the women of Gros Morne.”

Access to maternal care is one component of the MFP’s Comprehensive Women’s  Health Program which includes free gynecological care, cancer prevention and treatment, sexually transmitted infection treatment, palliative care, and health education. We have brought more than 10,000 women into the health care system.

Monday, September 6, 2021

Haiti: Earthquake and COVID-19 Update

The Ofatma Hospital in Les Cayes. Earthquake victims are cared for on the porch due to cracks in the internal walls. Photo Fernando Liano.

At 8:30 am on Saturday morning, August 14, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck the southern peninsula of Haiti, 78 miles west of Port-au-Prince. The strong shallow quake destroyed homes, schools, roads, and other infrastructure. While rescue workers continue to dig through the debris, Haitian officials report hundreds of individuals are missing, thousands have died, and tens of thousands of people are displaced and in need of shelter and access to water and food. 

 Dr. MichaelViola, Director of MFP, stated, “Although we are relieved that Medicine For Peace personnel and facilities in Gros Morne were unharmed in the earthquake, we are deeply concerned about residents in the Les Cayes region. We are closely monitoring recovery efforts and are providing support to colleagues caring for survivors.” 

 Multiple overlapping crises are complicating efforts to rapidly provide relief to the region. Within days of the earthquake, Tropical Storm Grace pelted the area with heavy rains causing mudslides and road closures. Of further concern, heavily armed gangs have blocked convoys of relief supplies from reaching the affected area, abducted relief workers, and demanded ransom. Moreover, President Jovenel Moise’s recent assassination has left an ineffective interim government in place. However, corrupt politicians and street gangs do not reflect the Haitian people who display inordinate courage during times of disaster. 

 Despite the painfully slow mobilization of international and Haitian-based relief efforts, injured patients are being treated by local medical groups, field hospitals have been opened to care for trauma victims, food and water have been delivered, and sturdy tents have arrived to protect displaced residents from harsh rains. 

 At the same time, Haiti is experiencing a surge in COVID-19 cases and coronavirus-related deaths. One hopeful note: Haiti recently received 500,000 doses of Moderna COVID-19 vaccine and rapidly established distribution centers throughout the country. We are pleased to announce that on August 10, Alma Mater Hospital in Gros Morne initiated its vaccination program. 

Michael Viola, MD 
MFP Medicine For Peace

Friday, July 24, 2020

MFP, Civil rights, and the killing of George Floyd: A video.

Medicine For Peace's statement on the death of George Floyd in light of the organization's long commitment to civil rights.