With support from Every Mother Counts, Partners In Health has been conducting comprehensive trainings for Haitian nursing staff, who provide the majority of care to mothers and newborns during labor and delivery.
Written By: Partners in Health
Based at Hôpital Universitaire de Mirebalais (University Hospital in Mirebalais), trainings bring together maternal health staff from across PIH’s many clinics and hospitals in the Central Plateau. Participants discuss the latest science on preventing deaths in childbirth and practice hands-on skills to improve care of women and newborns. So far, more than 100 nurses, nurse-midwives, and nurse assistants have received training.
University Hospital serves as a referral hospital for the network of PIH-supported facilities around the Central Plateau. With state-of-the-art infrastructure and skilled personnel, hospital staff can manage complex, risky cases that otherwise might result in the death of a mother or baby. With the introduction of this specialized care, a key purpose of the trainings is to help care providers in community clinics and hospitals identify risk signs in pregnancy and delivery, allowing patients to be transferred to University Hospital for emergency care such as lifesaving cesarean sections. The trainings have been put to good use, as hospital care providers have delivered more than 1,200 babies since mid-2013.
Recent trainings have focused on normal labor and birth, including newborn care, emergency and high-risk obstetric care, gender-based violence and emergency contraception, newborn resuscitation, breastfeeding, and family planning, including IUD insertion. Science about caring for women and newborns is often in flux, and continuing education of care providers ensures patients receive the best care possible.
For example, the World Health Organization now recommends that the umbilical cord not be cut immediately after birth, allowing blood to flow to the newborn. This can help prevent anemia, especially in settings where diets lack iron, as is the case in Haiti. Through the University Hospital trainings, care providers are now cutting the umbilical cord one to three minutes after birth—what’s known as “delayed cord clamping”—to prevent anemia.
“Our nursing staff is on the ground doing the vast majority of deliveries, and having these skills is essential to the reduction of maternal mortality,” said Meredith Casella Jean-Baptiste, women’s health coordinator. “It’s really an honor to be part of this program and have an impact on maternal health here in Haiti.”
Photo: Nurse-midwife Nathalie Antoine, who has participated in maternal health trainings, examines 19-year-old Guerda Fatilus, who is six months pregnant with her first baby. Fatilus walked two hours from her home in Savanette to the clinic in Lascahobas, Haiti. Credit: Rebecca E. Rollins/Partners In Health