By Suzie Fertil
For many of Haiti’s children, one major accomplishment is to live long enough to see their first birthday. In reality, one of 14 infants in Haiti never accomplish such a milestone. Sadly, reaching their first birthday does not ensure a survival. Within the Caribbean and Latin America, Haiti’s children are more likely to die before the age of 4. This is certainly cause for alarm. Many of the premature deaths are preventable, and are the results of an unhealthy lifestyle, poor nutrition, and lack of prenatal care. In an effort to reduce this growing phenomenon, a countrywide educational program is needed. There is no doubt organizations, such as United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) are committed on this initiative, but we cannot deny that more could be done. This program would work to improve the lives of mothers and infants in the most impoverished areas of Haiti through self-sustaining education during pre and post pregnancy.
Two years ago, I gave birth to a baby girl born 28 weeks’ gestation and weighing 2lb as the result of preeclampsia. As a mother of a premature child, the experience was a real aguish, but the pivotal moment was the education received on the condition and its symptoms. This bit of information saved my life and the life of my unborn child. Nonetheless, things worked out, but many families in Haiti, do not receive the same fate. I was blessed to have given birth in the United States, in a state-of-the-art neonatal intensive care unit, where my child received the best care and I received proper education during and after birth to ensure my child’s livelihood. Sadly, many mothers in Haiti do not have the same opportunity.
Infant mortality is a serious issue facing the country. It is imperative to take measures to ensure the decrease of mobility and mortality rate among Haiti’s infant population. Let us make it a point to say that the children of Haiti will live a long and healthy life. For we are the product of Haiti, we cannot be complacent about the current life expectancy and wellbeing of Haiti’s children. The implementation of this program is recommended to educate mothers during and after pregnancy and play a key role in decreasing infant mortality. The only way to ensure death prevention, in our country, is through education and awareness.
Suzie Fertil is a native of Miami, Florida, born in Port-de-Paix, Haiti, and recently obtained a master’s degree in healthcare business administration. She is a devoted mother and wife.