More than a year after an earthquake rocked the country, Haiti has no shortage of bold reconstruction plans or donor pledges; but what it does lack is adequate health care and protection for its women and girls, says a report from Human Rights Watch.
“…some women and girls give birth unattended on the muddy floors of tents or trade sex for food without any protection from unwanted pregnancy,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. “Despite gains made due to free health care services, the government and international donors have not addressed critical gaps in access to health services or addressed conditions that may give rise to maternal and infant deaths.”
In addition to health concerns, the report also says that many women who are still living in camps and other temporary housing are left vulnerable to rape and forced to form relationships with men for the sake of economic security, or to exchange sex for food.
The group says that it is not the lack of donations that has created these issues, but, rather, the lack of coordination and data sharing between organizations and donors that have left Haitian women out in the cold. The report also claims that women are not being given adequate information about where to find medical care and often have difficulty finding the money for tests and other procedures.
In desperation, large numbers of women, many of whom are ill or pregnant, have begun fleeing Haiti for neighboring Dominican Republic, where medical treatment is free to everyone.
“If God has given you this gift to give service to others — this special service, of health — then you have to give it with quality, warmly, with love to whomever, no matter their creed or race, their color, it does not matter,” Joaquin Recio, vice director of nursing at Hospital General Melenciano in the Dominican Republic told the Washington Post.
But the Dominican government isn’t as keen on the migrants as Recio. Officials say the migrants are putting strain on the country’s health care system — adding strain to the already tenuous relationship between the two nations.
(Photo: AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo)