By Rebecca Harshbarger
Monday, January 25, 2010
The Haiti earthquake has increased the risks for an estimated 63,000 pregnant women in Port-au-Prince, as medical facilities and supplies have been destroyed. The UNFPA is distributing delivery and 'dignity' kits to help minimize the damage.
"We forget that women need to maintain their dignity in a post-crisis situation," said Mahmood. "Girls and women continue to menstruate and don't need to have soiled clothes."
Haiti's health care system took a huge hit in the earthquake, as many hospitals and clinics in the capital were damaged or destroyed. It's not currently known how many people in Haiti's Ministry of Health survived. Hospitals and clinics that are still functioning are overwhelmed with those seeking treatment from serious injuries. Meanwhile, medical supplies are still scarce, despite huge international relief efforts.
The U.N. hopes to bring in more medical supplies soon by air, as well as by road, through the Dominican Republic.
During this crisis, some pregnant women have been forced to give birth without medical supervision and in an unclean environment. Many women who survived the earthquake are now living in makeshift tents, made from bed sheets and sticks, according to the UNFPA. Some doctors have reported doing Caesarean sections and deliveries on park benches while they waited for their hospital's maternity ward to reopen on Jan. 18.
Rebecca Harshbarger is a journalist based in New York. She runs an independent news site for East African immigrants in the diaspora at www.ugandansabroad.org and blogs at www.ugandabeat.wordpress.com. You can follow her on twitter at www.twitter.com/rebeccaugust.