Effects of COVID on Women's Health & Pregnancy: Haiti Health Network Webinar; Our Ongoing Response
Global Force for Healing and Network partner Midwives for Haiti were among six speakers convened October 13th by the Dalton Foundation, facilitator of the Haiti Health Network. THe panel provided a rich, in-depth picture of the effects of the pandemic and vital grassroots responses. Here's a link to the webinar recording, including presentation slides:
Approximately 40 people from five countries attended the webinar, which painted a daunting picture of the impact of the global pandemic on patients, staff, and communities. While all our partners have been able to maintain excellent quality of care, this has taken a toll on midwives and administrators. Most locations experienced at least a doubling of the number of pregnancies and births over the regular monthly number as soon as women and girls could travel to the birth centers or visit a mobile clinic, trusting they would not become infected by the novel coronavirus.
Midwives for Haiti staffs a remote birth center in Cabestor, Haiti, weekly local clinics in rural areas, and all midwifery services at St. Therese's Hospital in their hometown of Hinche. Because it was not possible to isolate hospital patients with Covid at St. Therese's, a number of their Haitian midwives came down with the virus. Fortunately, all have recovered, though the reduction in staffing took a toll. The organization's response to the pandemic has been heroic, which is true for Compassionate Birth Network partners worldwide.
More good news: Midwives for Haiti's advanced midwifery school is now back in session and students are back to their clinical rounds after having to close its doors to in-person learning for six months due to Covid. We hope it won't be long before international volunteers will once again be able to support the Haitian team to serve the expanding needs of the Central Plateau. To read their latest newsletter: https://midwivesforhaiti.org/october-newsletter-2020/
Meanwhile, other challenges of the pandemic remain for our partners, including difficulty of finding PPE and other essential supplies and medicines, increased cost of these items and transportation fees, an alarming increase in food insecurity & malnutrition, and a spike in sexual violence/abuse and resulting pregnancy rates. Particularly alarming according to webinar speaker Kathryn Adams of LIDE Haiti, is the dramatic increase in adolescent & teen pregnancies, especially considering that they are the most at-risk age group during pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum.
Global Force for Healing continues to respond to Compassionate Birth Network needs by curating timely information on the pandemic, making helpful connections for partners, and providing funding for Covid priorities. We recently announced the $10,000 remaining in our Rapid Response Fund will be awarded next month. Heartfelt thanks to our supporters!
We hope to convene Network partners for training and planning purposes in Haiti and/or Mexico as soon as possible in 2021. And we look forward to collaborating with other networks, including Haiti Health Network in the years ahead. https://haitihealthnetwork.org.
Merci anpil--in Haitian Kreyol, thanks very much for your interest in our work!