Haiti FlagEarthquake in Haiti 2010 Updates
Letters to Midwifery Today

Please read ongoing updates from these organizations on their sites:

Circle of Health International (COHI)

Yayasan Bumi Sehat (Healthy Mother Earth Foundation/Ibu Robin Lim)

International Confederation of Midwives (ICM)

Circle of Health International announces the results of a landmark assessment of the reproductive health needs of women in Fond Parisien, Haiti

[March 25, 2011]

Results from the report revealed a stunning 47% of pregnant women had not gone for one or more visits for prenatal care, making them nearly 5 times less likely to be taking prenatal vitamins for their pregnancy—a critically important intervention that prevents folate and iron deficiencies, and helps ensure healthy newborns. In addition, half of all reported live births had no skilled birth attendant present.

"With the results from this survey, COHI has already started to address some of the needs previously unknown to organizations working in the area," said Leilani Johnson, M.P.H., Executive Director of COHI.

Additionally, 80% of women aged 15–39 desired family planning services, with more than half of respondents desiring injectable family planning methods. This highlights the importance of ensuring access to reliable, inexpensive, and safe family planning options.

90% of women also feel that gender based violence is a serious problem in their community; however, perhaps due to social stigma, only 8% admitted to ever experiencing any act of violence, a finding congruent with a UN study on reporting of gender based violence. Reporting was highest amongst the youngest age group (15–24 year olds).

"In such unstable economic conditions, women are often disproportionately affected by poor health outcomes," said Leilani Johnson. "Compounding the effects of poverty and low social status, the disaster experienced throughout Haiti further threatened the lives of women, who were already in precarious situations, by cutting off resources and isolating them from necessary reproductive health care," added Johnson.

"It's hard to think that all of this is happening just two hours away from Miami by plane" says Dr. Siobhan McNally, Chair of COHI's Board of Directors and a pediatrician who volunteered with COHI after the earthquake in Haiti.

Prior to COHI's provision of two full-time midwives at the CPT clinic, Fond Parisien did not have specialized services dedicated to women's health. This midwifery service, initiated and sponsored by COHI, is the first of its kind in the region.

Given the results of the report, COHI is focusing efforts on three important fields: responding to family planning needs of both women and men, leading initiatives towards the prevention of gender based violence amongst youth, men, and women, and increasing awareness and availability of services surrounding prenatal and women's health services.

Our assessment was a success on all accounts, but we couldn't have done it without you. The women of Fond Parisien, their communities, our partner organizations, and most importantly, COHI, appreciates your gift of time, energy, and enthusiastic support.

Yayasan Bumi Sehat (Healthy Mother Earth Foundation)

One Month Later: An Update from the Bumi Sehat Team in Haiti

One month after an earthquake devastated Haiti, the Bumi Sehat team is working hard to make the Bumi Sehat Mother and Child Clinic in St. Helen Parish, Jacmel, Haiti, a sustainable medical institution. The following is a recent update from the Bumi Sehat Haiti medical team, which consists of midwives Robin Lim and Kelly Dunn, and emergency medic Alexander Chudis:

"Bumi Sehat has rented a large wooden house, built in 1887. Though not the prettiest, it has survived many earthquakes without damage. This Bumi house will serve as a staff headquarters, and educational facility for trainings, capacity building, environmental education, women's groups, handicraft and art center, etc. … Even though The Bumi Sehat clinic is not operational yet, the medical team has done patient care at St. Michel Hospital, St. Helen's camp, The Emmanuel Medical Center in Caye Jacmel and Park Pinchinant, the tent city where an estimated 4,000 people are camped."

During their first 13 days in Haiti, the Bumi Sehat medical team has assisted:

  • 7 births
  • 85 prenatal care visits
  • 99 postpartum/breastfeeding support visits
  • 285 pediatric care patients
  • 15 adult illness and wound care patients

(This is from Katherine of Robin Lim's group)

Beloved Friends,

I arrived home last Thursday afternoon after nearly a month at Bumi Sehat's Bali clinic. In the time I was away, Robin and I made the decision Bumi Sehat would go to Haiti to set up a permanent clinic in Jacmel, north of Port-au-Prince, in response to the massive earthquake which devastated the country.

This decision to establish a permanent maternal/child gentle birth clinic was encouraged along by our partners Direct Relief International, our donors and a small amazing team of midwives and medics, determined to go make a difference.

In the 2 weeks since Robin and Kelly left on Team One, the earth has moved again...not in violence and destruction, but gently and steadily...ever so slowly... towards peace and health...one tiny grain of sand at a time. Our permanent clinic is quickly becoming a reality.

It has seemed impossible at times, confusing, chaotic, always overwhelming...as the conditions on the ground in Haiti are bound to be right now. Patient care is the best that can be affected for right now and so much less than what any health care provider would ever want to consider ok enough.

Sometime in the next 3 weeks I will be leaving for Haiti to join Team Two in Jacmel, north of Port-au-Prince, site of Bumi Sehat's new permanent Haiti clinic. Between now and the end of February I need to raise $5000 to aid the immediate relief effort in our Bumi Sehat Haiti clinic. Much is needed and in a short time.

This Sunday I am hosting a gathering at The Loft at Gentle Landing Midwifery at 2:30 (only small, nursing babies please...no children). Please see the attached poster about the event. I hope you will join me and bring all of your friends.

I invite you from the bottom of my heart to pass this email along to all you know. Then please consider coming on Sunday for moral support, updates, stories of hope...and ways you may be able to help the maternal/child effort toward safe and gentle birth in Haiti. Haiti represents a disaster of Tsunami proportions in our Western Hemisphere. The pain is so close to us. The love and hope of healing for Haiti is ours to remember.

I am attaching the freshest field report sent yesterday from Robin about the first few days on the ground. In 2 days we will have delivery of our 44 foot solid dome structure, the new home of our permanent clinic.

Yesterday we were granted a license to operate from the Haitian government. A license to care for pregnant and birthing women whose entire lives have been shattered.

The NYT did a very accurate article on birth in Haiti after the disaster: http://www.facebook.com/l/7698f;www.nytimes.com/2010/01/30/world/americas/30birth.html?hp

18 months ago, the A Million Mothers campaign email made it across the world two times, raising $20,000 for Bumi Sehat and gentle, affordable Birth Care for women in Bali and Aceh, Indonesia. One mother at a time. One dollar at a time. www.amillionmothers.org

A Million Mothers created a miracle 18 months ago one dollar at a time. Please help a million mothers in Haiti believe in a future for their children. Please pass this email along to all you know. Please post it on social networking sites, yahoo groups...all the places we all go for support and community...

Let's shoot for the stars...A Million Mothers helping mothers and children in Haiti $10 at a time.

My blessings and deep love,

With gratitude and hope,


If you cannot come on Sunday, or for those receiving this who live too far away, please consider donating to my non-profit organization: Allies For Trauma Relief toward the Haiti effort.

We are not on the web, but are a 501 (c) 3 and contributions can be sent to: AFTR, 25 Colby Street, Barre, VT 05641

Donations will be used to buy supplies for the new clinic and I will be posting updates and photos regularly between now and the middle of March.

If this email was forwarded to you, please email me to have your name put on the email list if you are interested in the updates.

Tax deductible receipts will be issued for all donations over $100.

Please note: All donations made to Haiti between January 12 and March 1 can be claimed for a 2009 deduction, according to a new IRS ruling.

Katherine Bramhall

International Confederation of Midwives

[Please read more updates from ICM here: http://www.internationalmidwives.org/

[January 29, 2010] Dear Midwives of the World,

The recent earthquake in Haiti has been an unimaginable disaster for the people of this struggling country. As the search and rescue efforts are drawing to a close, it is time to support the Haitians in their journey of healing and recovery. During the days since the earthquake, the ICM has been in touch with Josée Angela Sam, President of the Haitian Midwives Association, and with Agnes Jacobs, a Belgian midwife who has been working in a rural health clinic in Haiti for more than a decade. Agnes is now a consultant with the ICM/ UNFPA Programme in Port-au-Prince. They have kept the ICM informed of the scope of the tragedy. At this time they are able to report that almost all of the midwives in Port-au-Prince have survived the devastation and that the National Midwifery School at the University of Port-au-Prince remains standing.

Unfortunately, the nearby nursing school was destroyed and dozens of students and faculty died. Among those who did not survive was Dr. Alix Laroche, an Obstetrician, who was teaching a class of students in the nursing school when the building collapsed. Dr. Laroche was also a long-time faculty member at the midwifery school. He was Assistant Director under Ghislaine Francoeur, posthumous recipient of the ICM Marie Goubran award at the ICM Congress in Glasgow (2008). Following her tragic death in a car accident, Dr. Laroche stepped in as interim Director of the school for more than a year. Dr. Laroche was devoted to the development of the midwifery profession in Haiti and was well loved by the midwifery students. We join with the midwives of Haiti in mourning his untimely death.

Midwives from around the world are expressing the desire to help in whatever way they can. At this time the ICM will post on our website those international agencies that are requesting midwives to come to Haiti, as well as those agencies that are supporting maternal and newborn care in the country at this time. Please contact these agencies if you have the time, experience and ability to join the relief efforts in Haiti. Otherwise, please support these agencies with donations. ICM will also be happy to post information on our website about any activities being undertaken by Members as part of the relief effort.

Prior to this disaster, Haiti was the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere with one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world. In this time of desperate need, let us join in solidarity with the midwives, mothers, infants and families of Haiti. We must let them know that the midwives of the world care and that we are ready to help in whatever way we can.

Circle of Health International (COHI) Press Release

[Please read more updates from COHI here: http://www.cohintl.org/02projects/ht/index.php]


Circle of Health International working to limit damages to women's health status

Circle of Health International (COHI) announced today that its first women's health team has arrived in the border town of Jimani to identify and begin responding to women's unique and critical health care needs. This team, comprised of midwives and other women's health providers and public health professionals, will conduct a Rapid Health Assessment to gather information about the most pressing women's health concerns, provide desperately needed clinical services, and liaise with other relief agencies and organizations on the ground to make sure that women's health needs are addressed as part of the overall relief effort. They will also lay the groundwork for future COHI teams to continue this important work on behalf of women. A second team will be leaving shortly. UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund has estimated that there are 37,000 pregnant women among the survivors of the earthquake, and has recognized COHI's expertise in preventing more maternal deaths in crisis situations. As the international community acts to bring relief to the disaster torn island, COHI is using their expertise to include women's health needs as an integral part of the overall relief effort, doing their best to ensure that the devastating earthquake in Haiti does not have a similarly devastating effect on women's health in the region. COHI is collecting monetary and in-kind donations to support our volunteers in their effort, and is still far short of their fundraising goal to care for the women of Haiti and ensure the safety of their volunteer teams. Donations to the Haiti relief project can be made by visiting COHI's website at www.cohintl.org.

COHI understands that while securing food, water and shelter are essential to responding to crisis, women's health needs-often a matter of life and death-do not cease to exist in crisis and post-crisis situations. In fact, the already dire condition of women's health in these communities is often further threatened in times of emergency. Before the earthquake, Haiti suffered from the highest maternal mortality rate in the Western hemisphere, with 607 women per 100,000 dying in childbirth. Sadly, we know that during times of such tragedy and unrest, rates of sexual assault and domestic violence escalate, further endangering the lives of women in such settings. COHI pledges to do everything in its power to prevent further worsening of women's health status and to ensure that vital women's health needs are met.

Circle of Health International is a global non-profit organization headquartered in Massachusetts and dedicated to improving the health of the world's women by building the capacity of women's health care providers in crisis regions of the world and conflict-affected women through the provision of comprehensive women's health services. COHI has worked in Sudan, Tibet, Tanzania, Israel/Palestine, post-tsunami Sri Lanka and post-Katrina Louisiana, and specializes in responding to the unmet health needs unique to women in disaster/conflict areas. COHI is pleased to offer their expertise in order to ensure that women's health care is part of the overall relief picture in Haiti, thereby limiting overall damage to women's health in Haiti. More information about COHI can be accessed online at www.cohintl.org

If you'd like more information about these efforts, or to schedule an interview with Leilani Johnson, Executive Director of Circle of Health International, please call 512-517-3220 or e-mail info@cohintl.org

Agnès from Haiti, IMA/UNFPA

Dear Colleagues,

Thank you for your support! Yes we are still running for the basics of surviving. Access to water and food, so basic, are still our priorities!

Yes the National Nurse Midwife School (ENISF) is still there! The National Nurse School University and Faculty of Medicine collapsed completely and Dr. Laroche, Technical Advisor to the ENISF, was giving an OB course to the nursing students at the time. His car was still front this school when I arrived the next morning to the ENISF.

I was busy with PBS American Public Television for a report on ENISF nurse midwives students, "Life Saving Skills" and "Community Reproductive Health Development" at the successful Petite Rivière Rural Maternity—268 deliveries in December 2009 and no maternal mortality cases at the time.

The President of the Haitian Midwives Association, Angela Sam, is gone to US, as many Haitians live also in the country. Others move inside the country with their children.

The staff at the University Hospital Maternity is not yet there. Their houses collapsed, no more work clothes, no more transport, no electricity, water, telephone digicel not yet working, and Internet not good. Supermarkets not yet open, no banks, only local street vendors selling fruit, etc.

Many public institutions as Ministry of Justice, Finance, Ministry of Health, Foreigner Affairs, Planning, Communication, Universities, Schools, Hospitals and Clinics are destroyed, the presidential palace and the prison too. (The gangs changed already their location to the slum local market, said my house gardener.)

Now, we are working on these higher crisis priorities with many limitations as low logistic support, (very few ambulances, not enough petrol). We are very busy—Airport emergency support is working 24/7. No more international flights. Only from San Dominguo international could one leave the country.

Thank you for your understanding—and keep contact.

Best regards,
Agnès from Haiti

Bumi Sehat Team, Haiti

[January 19, 2010] Ibu Robin Lim and three other members of Bumi Sehat Clinic of Indonesia will spend a month in Haiti, January 25 – February 25, setting up a clinic as they did in Aceh, Indonesia, following the tsunami in 2004. The goal is to set up a clinic that will attract other NGOs and local community members to help their own people, to be managed by locals after the Bumi Sehat team has left. They will be going into Haiti and looking for a rural location to set up a small clinic for immediate health care. This clinic will be helping women with a safe place to birth and immediate mental and physical trauma. They hope to link up with another organization to have a transport vehicle to transport patients with more serious health needs to a larger facility. Here is is the bank that you can direct deposit funds into or pass on the info to others: US BANK, Acct. name Dragonfly, routing # 1230002200, acct.# 153690811358. "We WILL USE ALL funds that are deposited for supplies for the Haitian people."