Thanks to the SSIAF project’s support, the three newborns are in good health.
It is not easy to expect a child and give birth to three, at once. That’s what happened to Lisette Joseph, a resident of Les Anglais, in the South Department in Haiti.
“I always thought I was carrying only one baby. After the boy was born, I was told there was another. Once at the hospital, I was told that there was still a third one,” she says.
Newborns are certainly welcome, but the family is already large and very vulnerable. “With these last three, we now have six children,” worries Wiscar Leone, Lisette’s husband, pointing out that they lost a child last year.
The SSIAF project strengthens the capacity of health facilities
Les Anglais was swept away by a magnitude 7.2 earthquake causing thousands of human casualties and significant material damage. At least 97 health facilities have been destroyed or damaged, in southwestern Haiti, reducing access to health care to nearly one million people. Six months later Lisette’s babies are born, and they need special attention and optimal care to survive. Luckily, Les Anglais health centre is well equipped to cope.
“We gave the babies adequate care and then we took their measurements, including their head girth and their length. We dressed them and then put on the baby warmer with their towels. We placed the three babies as in the crib of little Jesus,” says Miss Vanessa Chevalier, the midwife who received them. They were small and placed on the same table, one after the other.
Les Anglais health centre benefits from the Integrated Health Services for Adolescent Girls and Women (SSIAF) project, funded by Canada and implemented by the United Nations agencies UNFPA, UNAIDS, PAHO/WHO and UNICEF, in support of the Ministry of Public Health and Population (MSPP), and the Ministry in charge of Women’s Rights (MCFDF). Its objective is to improve sexual and reproductive health of women and adolescents and the health of newborns and children in the departments of South and the Grand’Anse hardest hit by Hurricane Matthew.
The health of mothers, newborns and adolescents remains very precarious in South and Grand’Anse, while the rate of family planning is still very worrying. 37% of family planning needs in the South and 35% in Grande Anse are not met. Before the earthquake, only 57% of health facilities offered the three mechanical, oral and long-term reversible contraception methods. Only 1.8% of women opt for long-term methods and many women in union are not informed of the methods available, in particular those allowing them to limit births. Eight out of 10 women were not informed by a healthcare professional during their last medical visit.
The Léone cannot afford to take care of six children
Launched in 2018 for a period of five years, the SSIAF project aims to improve the sexual and reproductive health of women and adolescents and the health of newborns and children in the two departments. The Léone are legitimate beneficiaries of this project, because they have been made vulnerable by natural disasters, and surely cannot pay the medical expenses required to save the lives of three newborns at the same time, while taking care of three other children. And Lisette should not have respected her prenatal consultations for having ignored that she was expecting several children. “I didn’t know I was going to give birth to so many children. I was frustrated. I’ve never seen such a thing,” she wondered.
Lisette also gave birth to one of the triplets at home, increasing the risks of child death at birth. In Haiti, the infant mortality rate is 59 per 1000 according to the 2017 EMMUS VI study, which is one of the highest on the American continent. It is 28 per 1000 and 40 per 1000 in Grande Anse and Sud respectively. Health workers are fighting to reverse the trend.
“As we are supported by the SSIAF project, we visit the midwives and encourage them to refer patients to the hospital. We also do home visits and provide family planning kits, prenatal consultations and organize mobile clinics,” says Miss Chevalier.
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