The maternal and child health indicators from the last EMMUS V survey, show that Haiti, in spite of progress made, has the highest child mortality rates in the American region, with a 88 deaths per 1000 live births for children under five (EMMUS V, 2012).


per 1,000 live births under-five mortality 2012


per 1,000 live births under-five mortality 2004

The Health System

One of the main health-related challenges in the country is universal health coverage due to the significant inequities between healthcare provided in urban and rural areas.

The Context

Before the earthquake, 47% of the population had no access to health care because of the extremely centralized nature of the health system. The earthquake impacted numerous health facilities, worsening the situation for the population. The HIV prevalence rate is approximately 3% for pregnant women, yet only half of them receive antiretroviral treatment (ARVs) to prevent mother-to-child transmission. 7% of children under the age of one have never been vaccinated, a sign that it is necessary to reach the most inaccessible people in the health sector. UNICEF’s goal is that girls, boys, adolescents and women, particularly the most vulnerable, receive universal health coverage and use integrated health services.

In the case of maternal mortality, the statistics from the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated 350 maternal deaths for 100 000 live births in 2012*, which places the country far behind its neighbors in the region.

The main challenges

  • Child and maternal mortality rates in Haiti remain very high compared with those of other countries in the Caribbean and the Latin America region.
  • Neonatal mortality (children dying before their first month) is a great challenge for the reduction of child mortality.
  • There is very little access to basic services, particularly in rural areas.
  • There is an insufficient number of health practitioners.

UNICEF’s actions

UNICEF focuses on strengthening the capacities of the Ministry of Public Health and Population (MSPP) in three priority areas:

  • Reinforcing routine vaccination in the most hard-to-reach areas by focusing on the RED (Reach Each District) approach;
  • Basic emergency obstetric and neonatal care, focusing on newborn care;
  • Preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV/AIDS (PMTCT), focusing on eradicating pediatric AIDS by 2015.

UNICEF will focus on supporting the MSPP in its efforts to prevent and control cholera and will concentrate on communication for development in order to ensure that key health practices are adopted within the community.

In the area of health, UNICEF plans on progressively moving from an emergency programme to a development programme in order to:

  • Allow the continuity of care through a series of interventions (adolescents/youth, pregnant women, newborn and children) and the implementation of a quality reference system in order to improve access to basic health care services;
  • Strengthen the capacities of health personnel at all levels to improve the management of the health sector.

Stories about health…

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