Wednesday, February 28, 2007
Haiti and Having Babies
The maternal mortality rate in Haiti is the highest in the Western Hemisphere. The maternal mortality rate is 523/100,000 women. What this means is that during pregnancy or within six weeks of delivery, 523 of every 100,000 women who have babies die in Haiti. The maternal mortality rate in the United States is 7/100,000. Black women in the United States have a maternal mortality rate of about 20/100,000.
The excess deaths are due to poverty, structural violence, and fear of being shot. With these three factors discouraging care, Haitian women do not receive adequate prenatal or perinatal care and die from complications of delivery such as bleeding and infection, and eclampsia.
Doctors can help with bleeding, infection, and eclampsia but need to do much more in preventing these complications by addressing the real issues that allow these medical complications to kill their patients. That is the frightening part for physicians around the world and the part we never learned in medical school or residency.