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Jhpiego team heads to Haiti

January 19, 2010
CONTACT: Melody McCoy
410-537-1829 or mmccoy@jhpiego.net
Cell: 410-868-9399

A team of Jhpiego health care workers will leave Baltimore for Haiti on Wednesday morning from Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport.

Jhpiego, based in Baltimore and an affiliate of The Johns Hopkins University, is dispatching physician Willy Shasha, an obstetrician and gynecologist; Anne Pfitzer, a senior program manager; and Richard Lamporte, a member of the organization’s leadership team, to Port au Prince to work with Haitian staff already on the ground to ensure the health-care needs of pregnant women and newborns. 

For 35 years, Jhpiego has worked in more than 150 countries preventing needless deaths of women and their families. Jhpiego is not a relief organization. Its core mission is empowering front line health workers by giving them effective, low-cost, hands-on solutions to strengthen the delivery of health care services for all.

“Our mission now will be focused on the pregnant women and newborns of Haiti, a population often forgotten in the devastation of natural disasters because health care providers and relief workers are attending to health care emergencies,’’ Jhpiego CEO Leslie Mancuso said. “A pregnant woman can be an emergency in a minute, endangering two lives not just one.”

Jhpiego’s team traveling to Haiti is also charged with assisting the Jhpiego Haitian team of doctors and nurse midwives to review the long-term health needs of women and children and using its experience working in low-resource settings to help rebuild the health-care system in Haiti. They will be working with other local health care experts, government agencies and non-governmental agencies.

The team is bringing with it basic medical supplies and equipment, including antiseptic creams, sterile gloves, gauze and other items. Lucito Jeannis, Jhpiego’s country director in Haiti, has asked for such materials to help equip a fledgling medical clinic that has opened in the home of a neighbor who is also a doctor. Jhpiego learned Friday that all six members of its Haitian staff were alive and well.

“We want to ensure that pregnant women have a safe and sanitary environment to deliver their babies. As important is to have a trained health care provider overseeing those deliveries. That can mean a skilled birth attendant, a midwife, nurse or doctor,” Mancuso said.

During its 15 years in Haiti, Jhpiego has trained more than 400 midwives, OBGYNs and other medical staff to improve the care of pregnant women and their newborns. While it is not a relief organization, Jhpiego has had experience helping countries recover from disasters and with low-resource countries, including Afghanistan.

After the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami that devastated South Asia, Jhpiego sent a team to assist its 20-member staff in Indonesia. In Aceh, Jhpiego re-established and equipped 20 midwife practices and two midwifery schools; established and equipped the obstetric unit of a provincial hospital and equipped 50 village midwives with delivery and suturing kits so they could assist pregnant women.

 Jhpiego also recruited and deployed 127 midwives to fill the gap in reproductive health services at health facilities and camps for displaced persons. Services provided by these midwives covered an estimated 1,504 children and 3,852 women.

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