Tuesday, January 26, 2010

How to Help Women and Children in Haiti

by Eileen Ehudin Beard, CNM, FNP
ACNM Senior Practice Advisor

The tragic situation in Haiti continues to send shock waves around the world. When you look at a picture of a young mother holding her newborn in the midst of chaos, you can’t be depressed about the economy or your 401K anymore. Those things don’t matter.

The knee-jerk reaction is to drop everything and hop a plane to Haiti, but, as we’ve all heard, that’s not the right thing to do in a disaster situation. Unless you prepare yourself mentally and physically you’ll be in a similar situation to the people you’re trying to help.

Many organizations are taking immediate action to help and are preparing to send teams of volunteers to Haiti when the time is right. Last week I participated in a conference call with representatives from ACNM, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), and the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN). We agreed on the need for a particular focus on ensuring that women, infants, and children have access to the services that they need in camps and tent cities, and that they are protected from violence and sexual assault. The Cochrane Collaboration has published Evidence Aid, a Web site of up-to-date, relevant evidence to help people trying to cope with the aftermath of the disaster. Midwives for Haiti is organizing volunteer teams of health professionals to go to Haiti over the coming weeks and years that this country will need help.

If you are not trained to be a responder in a disaster, you can still help Haiti by donating money to a trusted organization. The Better Business Bureau has several resources and tips for choosing a legitimate charity. You can also view ratings of various organizations through Charity Navigator at www.charitynavigator.org. Please stay tuned to the Global Health Council for continuing updates on the situation in Haiti and a list of organizations that need your financial support.

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