Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Get Karen to Haiti: Help Ensure Safe Births in Times of Crisis

On the second anniversary of the Haiti earthquake, certified nurse midwife and instructor of nursing Karen Feltham is planning to return to Haiti and volunteer her services and provide training for local communities to help save women's lives.

Mothers and infants are especially vulnerable groups that are disproportionately affected by emergencies and the negative ramifications of disaster situations. It is well recognized that skilled birth attendants can help save lives.
 “The role of skilled birth attendants, in particular midwives and others with midwifery competencies, is widely acknowledged as being crucial to addressing maternal and newborn mortality and morbidity, and to promoting women’s and children’s health" (Maternal Health Task Force)
 Karen and other volunteers from Circle of Health International work with and train local maternity care workers, ensuring that birth attendants can recognize and respond to emergency health situations in maternity care.

Even before the devastating earthquake on January 12, 2010, Haiti had the highest maternal mortality rate in the Western hemisphere, with 607 women per 100,000 dying of complications related to childbearing.

Because Karen is donating her time and knowledge, COHI is fundraising to raise the cost of her travel to and within Haiti. This fundraiser is part of campaign to Get Karen There organized by Jeanette and Hillary at Birth Swell.

Help Get Karen There!

Circle of Health Interational (COHI) works with women and communities to provide access to reproductive, maternal and newborn healthcare, specifically in times of crisis. COHI defines its target population as women in crisis, specifically partnering with women surviving conflict and disaster. I really like that COHI supports all aspects of public health, primary care, and ethnographic research initiatives! They are really committed to improving the quality, access and effectiveness of services to women and their families in these communities.

What's also really great about COHI is that "they work at the grassroots, partnering with the local community to identify their priorities and needs. They respect local cultures and values and focus on building skills in the community with local providers. This means their work is sustainable, long after COHI volunteers have moved to the next disaster," explain the Birth Swell gals. 

Karen's goals for her trip are to are to "run emergency obstetric care management drills, review core competencies, and always to reinforce and encourage the midwifery model of care." Important things that she will ensure are 1) a high standard of care and 2) training to recognize and respond to issues such as preeclampsia and shoulder dystocia.

If you'd like to learn more about Karen and her work, read this great interview with her on Our Bodies Our Blog!

Want to learn more about what COHI does, or how to volunteer? Check out their website or follow COHI on Facebook!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks so much for being a part of this! Karen is such an amazing midwife and COHI is an amazing organization. I'm really honored to know these folks and help them out!


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