“Haitian women experienced the highest maternal mortality rate in the Western Hemisphere prior to the January 2010 earthquake. [...] Today, women and girls experience even greater challenges.“
–Elizabeth Sepper, 2010-2012 Center for Reproductive Rights fellow at Columbia Law School
Karen Feltham is a certified nurse midwife, a clinical instructor at Binghamton University in New York, and a volunteer with Circle of Health International (COHI)–a pro-choice, nonprofit organization dedicated to “working with women and their communities in times of crisis and disaster to ensure access to quality reproductive, maternal, and newborn care.” COHI helps carve out a little safety for vulnerable people in unsafe times. Karen travelled to Haiti to help out with women’s reproductive healthcare in the immediate aftermath of the catastrophic 2010 earthquake. She’ll return later this month to continue supporting local midwives’ work during a ten-day trip to HCM Maternity Clinic in Fond Parisien–a birth center that’s staffed by two midwives and serves more than 2,000 women each year. Her goals for this trip are to:
- Review existing protocols for managing emergencies and deciding when to transfer to the local hospital. Provide clinical support and skill building where it could improve outcomes for Haitian women and their babies.
- Run emergency drills using improved protocol for complications most likely to be seen at the clinic, including shoulder dystocia and postpartum hemorrhage.
- Improve monitoring processes so that the clinic can evaluate their existing protocols and make improvements based on evidence.
Do you think you could pitch in ten bucks or whatever to help out with her travel expenses? If so, click here for more information. This post is part of BirthSwell’s push to help Karen and COHI through social media–their introductory post is here. Want more information about the current situation for women in Haiti, and/or about COHI’s work? Here are some links:
- “Stability of Haiti’s Reconstruction Hinges on Women” (Human Rights Watch)
- “The Health of Haitian Women” (Gender & Sexuality Law Blog, Columbia Law School)
- COHI’s values
- more about COHI in Haiti
- COHI’s Facebook page
postscript: Last night I received an email from the folks at BirthSwell, announcing the good news that the campaign had already met its goal (and Karen’s immediate travel funding needs) of $1000. They continued, “Every additional dollar raised beyond our goal will go towards getting Karen – or another skilled midwife – to the next disaster or crisis. Each year, one-third of the world’s population will be affected by natural disasters. Women and children constitute as much as 80% of the world’s refugees and displaced people. COHI volunteers give their time freely to ensure that women can have safe births – even in unsafe times.” So, please still consider contributing! And thanks to everyone who already has.