Project #2229

Run a Maternity and Pediatric Service in Haiti

by Hope Health Action

Making the right choices about healthcare for you and your family in Haiti isn't easy. Sometimes there is a choice and sometimes there isn't but making the wrong decision can prove to be a tragic mistake. It isn't;t like the UK where there is always somewhere local to go if we are in need. So we think it's our responsibility to not only provide the health services people need, but also make as many people aware of the choices they have and how to make them. 

We recently met a mother called Altanise who gave birth at our hospital. Her story starts long before she was pregnant. Whilst training to be a nurse herself she completed one of her rotations at HCBH and saw then the high level of care provided at the hospital whilst working in the NICU. She lives in a town near the border to the Dominican Republic, about a 45 minute drive away. Because of this distance she did not come to HCBH for her prenatal consultations. She had her prenatal consultations at a clinic near her home and also had an ultrasound, making her aware that she would be expecting twins. Knowing the high level and quality of care received at HCBH, when Altanise started going into the labour she made the long journey to HCBH.

Altanise needed a c-section in the end because one of the babies was breach. The procedure went well, two healthy baby boys were born, and needed to go to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit for a little bit, but were soon reunited with their mother. After a few days recovering in the department she was able to go home. She also received some training on breastfeeding as we had a visiting nurse from the US working in the department that week, who provided much encouragement as even a few days after the birth she was struggling to produce milk. These were her first children.

A different mother, who may not have known what was available at our hospital may not have made the journey to give birth. With the complications that occurred in this story, the outcome of this birth outside of the hospital could have easily been tragic. We're so glad Altanise chose to make the long journey to us, and she is too!

Thank you so much for your continued support of our maternity and paediatric care at our hospital. Lives are saved every day thanks to your support. 


As the fundraiser for HHA, I regularly read the blogs and reports that are written by the volunteers who visit the hospital. These first hand accounts give a great insight into the what is being achieved and the challenges that remain. I read a blog recently (link to full article below) written by Flick Montgomery, a doctor in training from the UK who chose to do her 6 week medical elective with us at our project in Haiti. I wanted to share a few extracts with you as it really highlights why we set up the maternity and paediatric units all those years ago.

Flick reflects on how her expectations of what level of involvement she would have compared with her actual experience:

"The reality was both humbling and ideal – we soon realized that we couldn’t add any skills or knowledge to what the doctors and nurses more than amply provide, but were warmly invited to watch, learn and get involved as much as we could."

She then describes how different healthcare is in Haiti and in the UK:

"One of the biggest differences between the medical care in Haiti at HCBH and that of NHS hospitals at home, was the resources available to the clinical staff. There is clearly no lack of the same clinical knowledge and skill that you find at home, with maybe an even greater desire to give the best possible care, but where in UK hospitals tests are sent off left right and centre, scans and imaging done all day, and a whole range of treatments and medications readily available, the doctors we worked with are forced to work with a much, much more limited set of options."

And then she makes the point that echoes exaclty why HHA was set up nearly 10 years ago:

"We saw countless cases where the staff knew exactly what was wrong with a patient, exactly what they needed to do, and exactly how to do it, but were forced down a much vaguer path due to the lack of many diagnostic tests and specific treatments. We couldn’t help but share in the infuriation of being prevented from providing the care that you know you need to give, simply due to not having the supplies of wealthier countries’ health systems."

The death of a young girl, who could have been saved by the doctor if he only had more equipment, was the catalyst for the creation of the hospital and eventually the maternity and paediatric units. Despite the presence of 100+ bed hospital, the challenge to provide enough equipment still remains. This is particularly apparent in child and infant care due to the amount of specialist equipment needed.

The medical staff in the unit do their best to make up for the lack of equipment. Flick talks about their incredible resourcefulness:

"But we also couldn’t help but be amazed with how the doctors respond to this frustrating reality. Being unable to send off as many tests as you need and to try whichever treatment you think optimal has led to a clinical confidence and resourcefulness that does not rely on that diagnostic test you sent off ‘just in case’ – you have to know your stuff and go with your gut."

Flick's account is real and from the heart and well worth a read. Your donations are helping to improve the care we provide in Haiti. Whether you are supporting the doctor who stays at work well past his shift to deliver several more babies, or the NICU nurses who find whatever space and equipment they can to accomodate yet another desperately sick baby, or a new piece of breathing equipment that will save many babies in the future - you can be sure your money is making a real difference. Together we will overcome these challenges. Thank you so much for your support. 


I wanted to give you all a huge thank you for digging deep and supporting our urgent Ambulance Appeal which ran over the last few months. I am delighted to tell you that we not only raised enough to get the ambulance repaired but also additional funds which are much needed to support the critical maternity and paediatric work. Supported through a match fund arranged by Global Giving UK, all donations to the project between April and June were matched with a further 50% which was a huge help. Thank you so much to everyone who donated. The ambulance is currently being repaired and will be back on the road soon saving lives once more.

As we've reported recently, we've seen amazing results from both our hospital based maternity care but also the community based work. The numbers of mothers having safer, attended, births is increasing all the time gradually lowering the avoidable maternal and infant mortality rates in the country. 

But Haiti continues to face challenging situations daily as currently all government hospitals are on strike and have been so for 3 months! This means our hospital and community teams are working flat out to try and care for as many as they can. Sadly the reality in Haiti is that not all stories end well especially in these difficult circumstances.

One lady who was 25 years old came to the clinic for her first consultation late in her first pregnancy. She was term at this point. During her evaluation they found that she had a pre-existing heart condition, renal failure and was diagnosed with severe pre-eclampsia. She was given the different medicines needed and put on oxygen, but despite this she still wasn’t breathing well. An internal medicine Doctor was called to evaluate, he decided it would be best to keep her in the maternity ward yet the staff were anxious as to whether she could deliver. Her heart condition might mean she could not handle stress of a c-section due to the anaesthetic that would be used. They made the difficult decision to deliver her anyway using special equipment. Unfortunately the baby did not survive.

Even after this tragic loss, the mother’s health continued to deteriorate. At this point the mother was considered to need intensive care due to the severity of her condition. Our hospital does not have an ICU and due to a lack of available specialist care elsewhere and resistance from the family to move her, there wasn't anything more our staff could to do help her. Due to her pre-existing heart condition, renal failure, the severe pre-eclampsia and the unsupportive family the staff at the hospital were fighting a losing battle and one week after the mother delivered her child she also passed away. 

This horrible story highlights the limitations of delivering specialist care in Haiti. But it also reinforces the importance of our community health programme which aims to identify high risk women and children at an earlier stage where the hospital can better treat their conditions and save their lives. Be assured that your continued support means so many more are avoiding the kind of tragedy I've talked about. Thank you.  

On a more positive note, you may have already seen that last month, Haiti Hospital Appeal changed its name and is now 'Hope Health Action'. We are excited by this change as it more reflects the charity we are now 10 years after we were formed. Despite 'Haiti' going from the name, our heart remains firmly in Haiti with no plans to reduce our efforts to bring healthcare to the most vulnerable in Haitian society. In fact we think the name change will help open up some new funding opportunities and help us increase the sustainability of the project long into the future. We hope you will continue to stand with us as we enter this new chapter with the same passion to support the most vulnerable people in the world. 


Ambulance in ravine
Ambulance in ravine

Last month we received sad news that our 4x4 ambulance in Haiti had been involved in a terrible accident. On 5th March the ambulance was transporting one of our rehabilitation patients home, an elderly man who had suffered a bad stroke. Accompanied by our driver and a nurse, they set off to his home in a remote mountainous region, navigating some difficult terrain - made even worse than normal by heavy rain.

As they ascended one particular dirt track in the mountains, part of the road gave way sending the ambulance and occupants tumbling into a ravine beneath them.  Whilst those involved were obviously shaken up, miraculously no-one was seriously injured. 
Although the ambulance was recovered, the damage caused was severe and has put this critical resource out of action – in turn placing hundreds of lives at greater risk. The cost of these repairs is estimated at £4000.
Funding this kind of unplanned cost is very difficult so we've launched an urgent appeal to raise money to repair the ambulance. We are so greatful to GlobalGiving UK for helping our appeal by arranging a 50% match fund. This means than any donations made to our Maternity project page through Global Giving UK will be increased by 50% until the funds run out.*

Make a match funded donation today.

The ambulance is a critical resource in reducing maternal and infant mortality in the region. Our network of community health workers and birth attendants refer high risk mothers and infants to the hospital with the 4x4 ambulance often being the only way to get them help in time. It's so important we continue this vital service as soon as possible.

 As a previous donor to our maternity and paediatric project I'm sure you have a heart for the mothers and babies who are risk while our ambulance is out of action. Please donate once more and help get our ambulance back on the road and saving lives again. 

Thank you so much for your support.

*Please be aware that only donations made through are eligible for match funding and the total matching pot is limited to £5000. Visit our match fund page for more details and to make a donation. 

rehab patient
rehab patient
Villagers recovering the ambulance
Villagers recovering the ambulance


baby in neonatal
baby in neonatal

Our neonatal unit is regarded as the best place for neonatal care in the north of Haiti and rightly so. We have skilled doctors, dedicated nurses and specialist equipment which is simply not available anywhere else in the region. Babies are brought to our hospital from hours away in the hope they will get the treatment they need to survive. And the truth is babies will have a better chance if they come to us.

But when working in a developing country like Haiti, where the need for our services is so high and the resources are always over-stretched, the outcome won't always be positive. Doctors are regulary faced with impossible decisions which will decide the fate of a newly born babies just like a situation I experienced during a recent visit to Haiti.

In one afternoon 5 new babies were brought to the neonatal unit, most from other hospitals many miles away. Three babies were in a critical condition. One baby was extremely premature and born on the street. Two others were term babies suffering from severe breathing difficulties. All three needed immediate and specialist treatment to survive. 

The tragic reality is that there isn't enough equipment to treat this many critical babies at the same time. The unit only has one CPAP oxygen delivery machine and all three babies needed it. The doctors had the impossible job of deciding which baby has the best chance of survival and receive the breathing support. It's not fair but it's something they have to deal with day in, day out. 

We are committed to increasing the capacity of maternity and neonatal care in Haiti so these unthinkable decisions don't need to be made. This means providing funding for the day to day running costs but also funding capacity building projects and new equipment. Your continued support has been vital to growing the services to the state they are now, saving the lives of thousands of women and children every year.

We are working with the hospital on a plan to increase the size of the unit including more vital equipment such as additional CPAP machines. This specialist equipment is incredibly expensive so if you can help support this work yet again you would be helping to save lives for years to come.Thank you so much.  

baby in incubator
baby in incubator



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Organization Information

Hope Health Action

Location: West Wickham, Kent - United Kingdom
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Carwyn Hill
Bromley, Kent United Kingdom
$98,104 raised of $98,000 goal
578 donations
$0 to go
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