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CARE: Tens of Thousands of Pregnant Women at Risk in Haiti
Date:1/18/2010

Humanitarian Group's Response Targets Vulnerable Women and Children

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, Jan. 18 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- CARE warned Saturday that pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers and young children are at greatest risk in the wake of an earthquake that has devastated the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince and left nearly three million people in need of assistance. There are an estimated 37,000 pregnant women among the affected population in urgent need of safe drinking water, food and medical care. Half of Haiti's population is younger than 18 years old.

Hospitals and medical centers have been destroyed, and remaining centers are overwhelmed treating people injured from the quake. With limited or no access to health facilities, pregnant women are at an even greater risk of complications and death related to pregnancy and childbirth. Haiti already has the highest rate of maternal mortality in the region: 670 deaths per 100,000 live births.

"There are a lot of pregnant women in the streets, and mothers breastfeeding new babies," said Sophie Perez, country director for CARE in Haiti. "There are also women giving birth in the street, directly in the street. The situation is very critical. Women try to reach the nearest hospital, but as most of the hospitals are full, it's very difficult for them to receive the appropriate care. Mothers and their babies could die from complications without medical care."

CARE set up at three hospitals Saturday and is distributing an eight-day supply of water purification packets to 12,000 people. The distributions target women and children, who are susceptible to water-borne illness such as diarrhea.

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