PORT AU PRINCE -- September 13, 2017 -- The United Population Fund (UNFPA) and its Safe Birth Even Here campaign announced today it is partnering with The Baby Box Co. and Johnson & Johnson to provide 2,500 Baby Boxes to mothers and babies in Haiti affected by Hurricanes Irma and Matthew. Baby Boxes are being distributed to new mothers who have delivered with the support of UNFPA, in areas affected by natural disasters and where access to maternal health is very limited.
The threat of hurricane season continues in Haiti. Hurricane Irma, one of the most powerful storms ever recorded, has just hit the Caribbean and the northern part of Haiti, impacting more than 2 million Haitian people. Though parts of Haiti were spared a direct hit from Irma, the country is still rebuilding from Hurricane Matthew and the threat of an ongoing hurricane season leaves Haiti’s pregnant and new mothers particularly vulnerable.
Haiti has the highest maternal and infant mortality rates in the Western Hemisphere, with a rate of 359 deaths per 100,000 births in 2015*. Following the destruction by Hurricane Matthew, conditions deteriorated significantly with the destruction of several hospitals used by women for vital sexual and reproductive health services. UNFPA is working with the Haitian Government and the humanitarian community to ensure that health needs of more than 546,000 women and girls in Haiti’s hot spots are urgently addressed.
With over a year of planning, on September 13, 2017, the baby box project will commence in Marigot, in Southeast of Haiti, with representatives of the Haitian government, Parliament and local authorities. Johnson & Johnson is a strategic partner assisting UNFPA and The Baby Box Company to ensure the distribution of these materials to families in Haiti. The three organizations are committed to improving maternal health and helping reduce maternal and infant death in Haiti.
Baby boxes will not only help mothers provide a safe space for their infants in a challenging environment, but will be used to incentivize women to seek pre and post-natal care to improve the wellbeing of both mother and the newborn’s health. Each baby box, usually used as a baby's bed for the first eight months of life, is equipped with a firm waterproof mattress. Other items required for both mother and child in their first months together were also added.
"Pregnancy and childbirth monitoring in well-equipped maternities with attentive staff is one of the means by which the Ministry of Public Health and Population aims to reduce maternal and neonatal mortality in Haiti” declared Dr. Marie Greta Roy Clément, Haitian Minister of Health. "In this context, the Baby Box, will contribute to this effort, by encouraging women to visit maternities" added Dr. Clément.
"Hurricane Matthew delivered severe blows to Haiti's health facilities, " said Dr. Natalia Kanem, UNFPA Acting Executive Director. “Our task is to protect the reproductive health and rights of women and girls, and ensure that their newborns' basic needs are quickly met. These are often overlooked in humanitarian situations. We are working to help women give birth safely and to ensure that newborn babies have the safest possible surroundings to start their lives, despite this tragedy. We greatly value the help of our partners to achieve this.”
"The Baby Box Company is so proud to support UNFPA's outstanding work for vulnerable populations around the world," declared Jennifer Clary, CEO of Baby Box Co. "This immediate relief effort of Baby Box in Haiti is paving the way for other global initiatives by our team, in collaboration with UNFPA. Properly thought-out, effective and sustainable collaboration is necessary to improve conditions for women and children in Haiti."
“Johnson & Johnson has been in partnership with UNFPA to strengthen health care for mothers and newborns for more than a decade,” said Joy Marini, Global Director, Global Community Impact at Johnson & Johnson. “The new partnership between UNFPA, Baby Box and Johnson & Johnson is committed to providing Haitian mothers with the education and essential supplies that every mother needs. This is especially important in difficult circumstances such as the aftermath of Hurricanes Matthew and Irma.”
Notes for editors
*Data coming from: http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SH.STA.MMRT
About the Ministry of Public Health and Population of Haiti
The Ministry of Public Health and Population (MSPP) is the body of the executive Branch that formulates and implements the national public health policy. Its mission is to guarantee to all citizens without distinction the right to life and health and to provide them with the appropriate means for the protection, maintenance and restoration of their health, in all local communities.
About Baby Boxes
The use of baby boxes has been associated with Finland's efforts to achieve one of the lowest infant mortality rates in the world. The Finnish initiative, which allows all women waiting for a baby in the country to claim a free baby box once they have received prenatal care and parenting information from a health professional, is aiming to help in reducing the infant mortality rate in Finland from 65 deaths per 1,000 children born in 1938 to 2.26 deaths per 1,000 births in 2015.
About the Baby Box Company
The Baby Box Co. is an innovative, integrated program to support parents and improve maternal and infant healthcare outcomes globally. The Baby Box Co. partners with hospitals, government agencies and nonprofit organizations to provide Baby Boxes, quality products, resources and ongoing education to families on a large scale. The Baby Boxes, which are made from a durable cardboard and are proactively certified to meet the highest level of available safety standards by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), as well as Health Canada and EN Standard regulations for bassinets, can be used as a baby’s bed for the first months of life. While parents appreciate the Baby Boxes and quality care products included, it is the educational component and closer communication with local healthcare providers that is at the center of the Baby Box University distribution model. Families are required to view their community’s online curriculum before receiving a free Baby Box. The Baby Box Co. has offices in the USA, UK, and Canada, and was a 2017 honoree and finalist for Fast Co.’s Innovation by Design Health & Social Good categories. For more information, please visit www.babyboxco.com and www.babyboxuniversity.com.
UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, is a UN international development agency that seeks to achieve a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe and every young person's potential fulfilled.
About Safe Birth Even Here
The "Safe Birth Even Here" campaign aims to raise public awareness regarding the high rate of maternal deaths in emergencies and to increase support to services to protect the rights of women and adolescent girls living in humanitarian and vulnerable environments. It was created in 2012 by UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, and relaunched in 2016 with the creative talents of the Research Communication Center of Benetton, Fabrica, under the auspices of the Benetton Women's Empowerment Program. Johnson & Johnson works with "Safe Birth Even Here" as a strategic partner, supporting the campaign around the world.
About Johnson & Johnson
Caring for the world, one person at a time…inspires and unites the people of Johnson & Johnson. We embrace research and science - bringing innovative ideas, products and services to advance the health and well-being of people. Our approximately 132,500 employees at more than 250 Johnson & Johnson operating companies work with partners in health care to touch the lives of over a billion people every day, throughout the world.