MaterCare International (MCI), an international organization of Catholic health professionals dedicated to the care of mothers and their born and unborn children, has answered the call of the Missionaries of Charity to provide care for Haitian women and their babies.
While many organizations have rushed to provide aid to the quake-stricken nation, much of the aid being provided is for very basic needs. Organizations are focusing on providing food, shelter or basic medical care. However, as MaterCare’s Executive Director Dr. Rob Walley pointed out, “pregnancy does not stop because of a disaster of this kind.”
Following the earthquake, there has been a great need for obstetrical care.
“From previous experience in East Timor, after the occupation forces left and during the Kosovo crisis back in 1999, it seems that the needs of women during pregnancy and childbirth are forgotten as if pregnancy and birth can be put on hold,” Dr. Walley said.
In Haiti, he added, “these mothers have also endured the earthquake, suffered injury and the loss of children, husbands and other family members.” In the disaster's aftermath “they face infectious disease from contaminated water as well as starvation."
“For the mothers about to deliver the situation is particularly bleak since, with the total loss of 6 hospitals in the capital with their medical and nursing staffs, they have few options for safe, clean, facilities, in which to deliver or the help of doctors or midwives.”
Even before the tragic tremor, “Haiti already had one of the highest maternal mortality ratios in the world,” Dr. Walley noted.
In response, MCI sent their project manager and executive director down to Haiti two days after the earthquake in search of a location to set up their clinic. They were able to successfully find two places to begin their ministry, as well as a joint arrangement with an obstetrics and gynecology team from Milan. Their doctors are working in two hospitals in order to bring necessary care to Haiti’s new and expectant mothers.
MCI plans on being in Haiti for the long term. “The reconstruction of Haiti is going to take decades,” said Dr. Walley. “MCI’s mission is to help mothers and to work with Haitian doctors and midwives to re-establish maternity services perhaps in two centers.”
Dr. Walley and his organization are committed to making motherhood safer and healthier in Haiti, all without the contraceptive and abortive practices common to many organizations providing care for women.
More information about MaterCare International is available online at www.matercareusa.org.