Prenatal mobile clinic in Labadie

April 25, 2017

 

by Tezita Negussie

A boat is loaded with medicines for a mobile clinic in Labadie taking place in April 22, 2017.

The village of Labadie is situated on the northern coast of Haiti, a 40-minute boat and bus ride from Cap-Haitien and the nearest full service health facility. The Ministry of Health runs a small clinic in Labadie staffed with one nurse and stocked with a limited supply of medicines and other materials.  Every two months, the staff at ULS-Fort Bourgeois Health Center organize a mobile clinic at Labadie for pregnant women and children under five.

On Saturday, I accompanied Dr. Mesadieu and his colleagues (one doctor, two nurses and a community health worker) to one of these clinics. A local community health worker informed the community in advance as to when to expect the providers from ULS.  By 9am, a group of mothers and children had already gathered outside the clinic waiting for Dr. Mesadieu and his team to arrive.

With permission from the patients, I spent much of my time talking and listening to the young women, many of whom were in their early to mid-twenties, who came for prenatal care. I think that there is a tendency to assume that poor women, and poor people in general, don’t seek medical care because they don’t understand or appreciate its value. To the contrary, the women I spoke to were very clear and articulate about the importance of prenatal care for their health, and especially the well-being of their baby.  In many instances, they spoke about the barriers to care being ones of access: distance to facilities and cost of care.  

Ms. Jean, attending a mobile clinic in Labadie. 

Ms. Jean is a 26 year old mother of two. She is expecting her third child in 6 months. She believes that prenatal care is important because “it helps to protect the baby”.  She visited the mobile clinic on Saturday because she was experiencing nausea and suspected that she had an infection. She also came because she knew that she would get the medicines that she needed for free at the mobile clinic. When I asked her what I she would have done if ULS had not organized the clinic that day, she said that she would have waited until she had enough money to go to Cap for care.

Waiting weeks or months for care, especially to treat an infection, could lead to adverse outcomes for the baby ranging from low-birth weight and prematurity to stillbirth and neonatal death. Ms. Jean’s story highlights the importance of mobile clinics and the need to continue to support these services.

While Konbit Sante’s role in these mobile clinics is not immediately visible, Dr. Measdieu insists that the clinics would not be possible without us. We provided the technical support that both helped ULS win the grant that pays for staff time and medicines and ensured that pregnant women receive the best quality care possible. I ask you to join us as we continue to build the capacity of Haitian health institutions and professionals to respond to the needs of their communities and women like Ms. Jean.