Press Release

Women and girls among those most impacted by Haiti’s multiple crises

13 October 2022

30,000 pregnant women at risk in Haiti as three-quarters of hospitals are unable to provide services

PORT-AU-PRINCE / NEW YORK, 13 October 2022 – The health system has been brought to its knees in Haiti following the gang blockade of the country’s principal fuel terminal in the capital Port-au-Prince, which began last month.  Around three-quarters of major hospitals across the country, which rely on diesel generators for electricity, report being unable to provide regular services. Fuel shortages also mean there are now only three ambulances functioning in Port-au-Prince – with close to none running across the rest of the country.

Vulnerable populations, including pregnant women and girls, are the most impacted by restricted access to health services. UNFPA, the United Nations sexual and reproductive health agency, estimates that close to 30,000 pregnant women are at risk of being unable to access essential healthcare, and almost 10,000 could experience life-threatening – if not fatal – obstetric complications without skilled medical assistance. Around 7,000 survivors of sexual violence could be left without medical and psychosocial support by the end of the year.

UNFPA has collaborated with hospitals, health authorities and partners to install solar power supplies at 25 facilities across Haiti, which have improved cold-chain storage and enabled maternity services to continue. Solar power, however, is insufficient to keep hospitals fully functioning.

“Despite the extremely challenging security situation and fuel shortages, UNFPA and our partners are operating mobile clinics frequently in internally displaced persons sites around Port-au-Prince,” said Saïdou Kaboré, UNFPA Representative in Haiti.  “Our trained community workers are doing all they can to ensure that women and girls, especially pregnant women and survivors of violence, can access services and support that are critical to their health and survival.” 

As Haiti grapples with a complex humanitarian crisis, there has been a resurgence of cholera, a disease which causes dangerous levels of dehydration. The outbreak comes at a time when many Haitians lack access to basic services, including drinking water, sanitation and hygiene, and threatens the well-being of vulnerable populations, particularly women and girls. To date, the disease has claimed 18 lives, with more than 260 suspected cases, although the numbers could be higher. 

UNFPA, in collaboration with partners, is supporting the government to control the outbreak and contributing to ongoing monitoring activities. Hygiene kits, which include chlorine, oral rehydration salts and soap are being procured and will be distributed, along with medicines and personal protective equipment.

Community workers are on the ground in displacement camps providing pregnant women and girls with water purification tablets and antibacterial soap bars, and identifying and treating those with cholera.  Prior to the outbreak, UNFPA had already distributed solar lamps and supplies, including sanitary pads, to displaced women and girls. 

“We are currently focusing on reaching pregnant women and girls in camps where there are real fears that cholera may spread,” said Kaboré. “The current violence and instability is hampering our efforts to reach the most vulnerable and we urgently need access to those in need.”

UNFPA’s humanitarian response in Haiti remains critically underfunded. To date, less than half of the funding needed has been received to provide women and girls with essential reproductive health and gender-based violence services.

UNFPA media contacts

In New York: Zina Alam, zialam@unfpa.org; +1 929 378 9431 
In Haiti: Vario Sérant, serant@unfpa.org; +509 37 01 4872 

About UNFPA

UNFPA is the United Nations sexual and reproductive health agency. UNFPA’s mission is to deliver a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe and every young person’s potential is fulfilled. UNFPA calls for the realization of reproductive rights for all and supports access to a wide range of sexual and reproductive health services, including voluntary family planning, quality maternal health care and comprehensive sexuality education.

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