Haiti’s Public Health Sector Makes Progress in Women’s Services
Sylvienne Louis is 42 years old. She has eight children and earns less than $50 a month as a maid. Two years ago, as Louis struggled to feed her children, she sought family planning advice at the Profamil clinic. Louis took those steps at the urging of her husband, who recognized that any more children would be a huge burden on an already financially strapped family.
“If it wasn’t for planning I would have just started having children,” Louis said. She had her first child at the tender age of 14. “Even if they tell me I’m going to die, I’m going to follow the regimen. I can’t have any more children.”
Louis, who chose Depo-Provera as a birth control method, is one of thousands of women and young girls in this Caribbean nation who depend on health programs like Profamil for their health care and family planning education.
Profamil, a non-profit organization founded in 1984, provides the service at low cost or free at its three clinics in the metropolitan area of Port-au-Prince, and one in Jacmel. The organization, and others like it in Haiti, has been engaged in a race to improve the health care delivery to women and to decrease the birth rate in a country with scarce resources. Despite the headwinds they face, there are signs that the work is having a significant impact in Haiti.