The best theory to use for women in haiti would be the Critical Medical Anthropology theory. Women ore on the low end of the totem pole when it comes to rights and access to human needs, especially when pregnant. It encopasses all epidemics, social sciences and biological perspectives that would have anything to do with Haitian women and their health as women and mothers (Joralemon, 2010). Haiti has suffered a sort of structural violence as stated by medical anthropologist and co-founder of Partners in HealthPaul Farmer (who did fieldwork in Haiti) it is “a host of offenses against human dignity [including]: extreme and relative poverty, social inequalities ranging from racism to gender inequality, and the more spectacular forms of violence that are uncontested human rights abuses…” (Singer & Erikson, 2013). Poverty is a major issue in Haiti and there are six primary factors that affect maternal and neonatal mortality rates:
inadequate health care facilities
inadequate number of trained health care practitioners
low percentage of skilled attendants at deliveries
low percentage of prenatal and postnatal visits
high-risk deliveries in nonqualified health facilities. (Jacobs, Judd, & Bhutta, 2016)
Moreover, maternal mortality takes one in 74 women each year away from their families according to the World Health Organization. Syndemic infection during pregnancy adds another level of risk to what is already a risky situation for most women in the Third World (Singer & Erikson 2013). Women live in a resource poor nations that dont have the access to health care that is need to stay healthy. Almost half of Haitians live in rural areas, constituting them being a part of geographical isolation. Rural residents have limited access to basic health care and to qualified medical facilities.And even the few that had access to obstetric care, couldn’t get seen because of the high cost. If a pregnant woman cannot pay for a midwife or a physician, she will most likely be delivering the baby at home without any skilled assistance, resulting in the large number of births without a skilled attendant present (Jacobs, et al., 2016).
In rural areas in Haiti, less than half of the households have access to improved sources of drinking water, contrasted with 88% in urban areas. One-third of the households must travel 30 or more minutes to access drinking water (Jacobs, et al., 2016).
To add to the environmental problems and cultural and structural issues with maternal mortality, women that are impoverished lack the upward mobility into leadership positions politically because of cultural beliefs. Danielle St. Lot has worked for decades to promote women’s rights and opportunities in Haiti. She also served as Haiti’s first female minister of commerce, industry and tourism. Her advice to women is to earn seats for Congress, thought rebuilding the country around education and business. Women vote, but they along with other men, vote for men (Cox, 2010).
It is important to address these problems through the lens aof a critical medical anthropologist in order for positive social, and health changes to occur to reduce maternal mortality and increase the vitality of Haitian women.
Cox, T (Host) (2010, July 26). The Role of Women In Rebuilding Haiti [Radio broadcast episode]. https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=128776196
Jacobs, L. D., Judd, T. M., & Bhutta, Z. A. (2016). Addressing the child and maternal mortality crisis in Haiti through a central referral hospital providing countrywide care. The Permanente Journal, 20(2), 59
Joralemon, D. (2010). Exploring Medical Anthropology. New York: Routledge
Singer, M., & Erickson, P. I. (2013). A companion to medical anthropology. Chichester [England: Wiley-Blackwell.