Baby boom joins Haiti’s problem list
By RICKY JORDAN | Mon, October 18, 2010 - 11:14 AM
PORT AU PRINCE, Haiti – The birth rate rate in poverty-ravaged Haiti has tripled since January, leaving the country with not only a massive reconstruction bill but with thousands of children to feed and maintain over the next 20 years.
This is the new finding of a United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) report released yesterday at a pre-launch of the UNFPA’s State of the World Population report 2010 in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
Not only were these figures given in the report but expanded by UNFPA representative, Igor Bosc, who said the rate of fertility was about four per cent of the population before the January 12 disaster, but was now at 12 per cent.
He explained that this “pending crisis” had already started to make a significant impact on the country’s pre-natal care and health services, since most hospitals had been destroyed in the quake ten months ago.
“Our challenge now is to set up emergency care facilities, family planning, and programmes to prevent sexually transmitted diseases, among other things,” said Bosc.
He noted that the increase in fertility was tied to the precarious nature of so many Haitians having to live in camp shelters – tents and other makeshift structures – which have no privacy and feature a daily struggle to get basics like food and water.
“Another challenge is that the women who were pregnant when the earthquake occurred have recently given birth, and now with the additional increase in currently pregnant women, it compounds the problem,” Bosc stated.
His statistics were further expanded in the report itself, compiled by American author and former New York Times columnist, Barbara Crossette, who, in speaking to a journalism student when she visited Haiti in April, found that:
“Many women and girls are housed at the camps . . . . They are victims of all forms of violence, physical and psychological.”
Crossette added that the biggest problem facing young girls at the camps were taking showers in public, and assault by men and young boys at night.
The matter was also ventilated by senior Haitian reporter Idson Saint-Fleur, of Scoop FM, who shocked some at yesterday’s workshop by stating:
“In a situation where people are extremely depressed, sex can be a way of coping or comfort. Generally, women have a precarious life in these campsites . . . and some give themselves to men for protection, and sell themselves for basics like food and water. These things are happening quite often, and consequently some are becoming pregnant.”
- Editor's Choice