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Hewlett Foundation Makes Emergency Grant for Health Care in Haiti

Jan 26, 2010


MENLO PARK, Calif. – The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation announced today that it has made a $500,000 emergency grant to the Western Hemisphere Regional Office of International Planned Parenthood Federation for it to provide reproductive and basic primary health care to Haitians affected by the recent earthquake.

The Federation will work through its partner Association pour la Promotion de la Famille Haïtienne (Haiti Family Planning Association, or PROFAMIL), which has critical on-the-ground capacity to provide key services, such as basic trauma care, and to help fulfill sexual and reproductive health needs now and in the coming months.

The effects of the earthquake hitting Haiti have been devastating, leaving one-third of the country's 9 million inhabitants in urgent need of food, water, and medical care. Following such natural disasters, previous experience suggests that women and girls will be hit especially hard, family planning experts say. There is an increased risk of sexual violence, sexually transmitted infections, unwanted pregnancies, and unsafe abortions.

"Haiti suffers from chronic shortages of reproductive health care in the best of times," said Sara Seims, director of the Population Program at the Hewlett Foundation. "It's no surprise that the current crisis has greatly exacerbated that situation. We're lucky to be able to support an organization that has deep experience in the field, so it can immediately make a difference and ease the suffering."

PROFAMIL lost two of its clinics in the earthquake but, in partnership with other organizations, will be able to offer primary health care and sexual and reproductive health services through mobile units in the cities of Port-au-Prince and Jacmel as it rebuilds capacity.

According to International Planned Parenthood Federation, there are 750,000 women of reproductive age in the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area and another 15,000 in the city of Jacmel, which also was hard hit by the earthquake. These women currently have very limited access to reproductive health services, including emergency obstetric care.

PROFAMIL will work with its counterpart in the Dominican Republic, which has been coordinating with the United Nations and other Dominican nongovernmental relief agencies, to deploy mobile health unit teams across the border to conduct an initial assessment of key areas of need and begin providing services.

These teams have extensive experience working with Haitian immigrants living in the Dominican Republic. They have been targeting service provision to these key areas, working intensively over a three- to five-day period and then returning to the Dominican Republic to restock with essential medical supplies.

PROFAMIL has created a task force to determine the duration and intensity of needs in terms of staff, services, and supplies over the short term. Its staff and community health promoters in the two cities will organize the mobile health units to bring primary health care, obstetric care, family planning, and HIV prevention services to tent cities and other temporary shelters that are being established in and around both cities. These efforts will be carried out in coordination with the Haitian government, the national health commission, and the UN's health response teams.

"It means a world of difference," Dr. Carmen Barroso, director of the Western Hemisphere Regional Office of International Planned Parenthood Federation, said of the Hewlett grant. "We've already put people on a plane to the Dominican Republic. They'll drive to Haiti this week to begin to assess immediate needs."

About The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation has been making grants since 1967 to help solve social and environmental problems at home and around the world. The Foundation concentrates its resources on activities in education, the environment, global development, performing arts, philanthropy, and population, and makes grants to support disadvantaged communities in the San Francisco Bay Area.

About International Planned Parenthood Federation
International Planned Parenthood Federation is a nongovernmental organization representing a network of 152 Member Associations working to improve sexual and reproductive health and rights for all people in 174 countries worldwide.

Contact:
Jack Fischer
Hewlett Foundation Communications Officer
(650) 234-4500 x5744
jfischer@hewlett.org