A recent study by the World Health Organization uncovered an alarming fact: More than 10 million women and children, mostly in developing countries, still die each year from causes which are largely preventable and treatable — such as unattended childbirth. In Haiti between 500 and 1,000 women in every 100,000 die each year giving birth. (To put that in perspective, in the U.S. only about eight women in 100,000 die during childbirth.)
Often these women die because there are no medical resources available if something goes wrong. Below is an example of how one ambulance we provided with the help of our donors is saving the lives of expectant mothers and newborns in the remote mountains of Haiti. Two hundred mothers were saved in the first year alone!
Mirlande Joseph, 33, had lost her first baby during pregnancy and was having trouble again. With no money to afford the hours-long trip to the nearest hospital, she instead labored at home for three days under the care of a poorly-trained birth attendant. Nearly overcome by pain, Mirlande finally realized she and her unborn baby needed help — fast. Unfortunately, it was the middle of the night and Mirlande lived in the rural mountain village of Moron in Haiti far from the government hospital in Jeremie, and the hospital didn’t have an ambulance that could come pick her up.
Her only options were to walk, something she could not do after three days of labor, or be carried six hours down a steep mountain in a “chair ambulance” — basically a small wicker chair with two poles stuck through either side.
Fortunately, one of our ministry partners, the Haitian Health Foundation (HHF), was able to send a nursing staff and vehicle, equipped as an ambulance, to Mirlande and take her to the hospital where she gave birth to a healthy baby girl. “If it wasn’t for the ambulance, I would not have lived,” Mirlande said. “I thank God every day for this miracle.”