haitian maternal health
A mother clutches her child, at a doula panel sponsored by the Life of Hope Center. (Twitter photo)

NEW YORK — One in every 35 mothers who gave birth in New York City were found to have a severe complication as a result of their pregnancy, city data shows. But the most recent data for mothers born in Haiti shows that one in 20 have suffered from the same severe maternal morbidity. 

Black Maternal Health Week, a five-year-old advocacy and awareness initiative that first earned official recognition from the White House in 2021, kicked off Apr. 11 and ends Apr. 17. For health care leaders steeped in Haitian community health, the week is an opportunity to raise awareness and advocate especially for Haitian families and their unique challenges. But they hope the work continues well beyond Sunday.

“This work hopefully is going to be done every day, every week,” said Dr. Christina Pardo, an OB-GYN physician at SUNY Downstate who runs Sante Fanm Se Lavi, a health and wellness program, through the nonprofit Life of Hope Center.

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Sam is a reporter for The Haitian Times and a 2020 Report for America corps member. He has covered Haiti and its diaspora since 2018. His work has also appeared in USA Today, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and Haiti Liberte. Sam can be reached at sam@haitiantimes.com or on Twitter @sambojarski.