Monday, March 17, 2014

Plannin in Port au Prince

"Plannin" is the Haitian word for contraception, coming from "Family Planning".  Haitian women really, really want this-- they agree that a child should be loved, safe, have enough food, and be able to go to school.  Limiting family size makes this a lot more possible...we're not talking convenience here, but survival.  So, my favorite visit in Port au Prince is to hang out with Beth McHoul at the Heartline Ministries Women' s Program.  Fridays are Family Planning day, and I've given lots of Depo Provera shots to women while getting a good chat in with Beth, one of my real-life Hero Midwives.  (Not only has she run this amazing program over 24 years in Port au Prince, but she is running the Boston marathon next month.... inspired?--consider a donation to her Maternity Center!) 
Heartline currently provides free, safe family planning shots to 1,200 women in their neighborhood.  But they also had a new project for me when I came-- a box of 10 "Jadelle" sub-dermal implants they asked me to insert while also teaching their staff nurse & midwives the technique.  Jadelle is 2 small plastic rods that go just under the skin on the upper arm, and they will prevent pregnancy for 5 years.   We gathered sterile supplies and did a group counseling session on the breezy front porch for the ladies who had been selected to receive this very highly desired method....went over side effects, risks, benefits, what to expect. They were mostly worried that their arm would hurt when they did laundry-- that's the way many of them earn a living.  I reassured them they would only feel a little sore for a couple days.  One of the mamas is a teenager who nearly died during her very complicated pregnancy and postpartum, but she's alive and well, who still has no way to support herself, and lives with a friend.  She really doesn't want to get pregnant again.    

It went great!  No ladies felt pain due to the local anesthetic, implants went in correctly, and all the staff inserted at least one successfully.  Our only moment of drama was when Robbie, the rambunctious Mastif who guards the compound, got in the house and jumped on one of the exam tables.  This has never happened during any of my clinic days in the states.  At the end of the afternoon, we'd dispensed 40 woman-years of Planinn...and had a good time, too.   Haitian Working Vacation, had a good start!

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