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Haiti's rate of fertility tripled - report

Published:Friday | October 22, 2010 | 12:00 AM
Alex Larsen (left), minister of public health and population, Marcela Suazo (centre), regional director United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and Igor Bosc, UNFPA representative to Haiti at Wednesday's launch of the World Population Report 2010 in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. - Photo by Daraine Luton

Daraine Luton, Senior Staff Reporter

PORT-au-PRINCE, Haiti:

HAITI'S birth rate has tripled since the January 2010 earthquake, the United Nation Population Fund (UNFPA) said.

Igor Bosc, UNFPA representative to Haiti told journalists here that the rate of fertility has since jumped from four per cent to 12 per cent.

"It is of great concern to us and there is going to be a crisis in being able to respond," Bosc said.

He was speaking ahead of Wednesday's launch of the World Population Report 2010.

Bosc has underscored the fact that the earthquake destroyed the vast majority of the health facilities in Port-au-Prince which has caused great concern to his organisation.

"This is why it is troubling for us. We are trying to call attention to the international community and the national players to respond to this crisis," Bosc said. He told journalists that there has been an increase in violence against women and that sexual behaviours among Haitians now create the opportunity for increasing sexually transmitted infections.

"Only 12 per cent of the population use condoms and the prevalence of HIV is likely to increase," he said.

"The people have limited access to health care, the ability to respond is very limited and we are very troubled," Bosc added.

An estimated 230,000 persons died in the earthquake while another 1.5 million are displaced and living in tents. One doctor at a UN-settled tent city said the clinic there has received numerous expectant mothers.

"Many of them are teenagers and others in their early 20s. We don't know what it was like before, but what we are seeing is that a lot of women who are coming to us are pregnant," the volunteer doctor said yesterday.

Urgent help needed

Witchner Ormeus, Haiti's director of youth and integration in the ministry of youth, sports and civil action, said urgent action is required to rescue Haiti.

"The situation in Haiti has worsened since the earthquake. Family and community structures are breaking down and young people are very sexually active at an early age. We now have to intensify our campaign against HIV/AIDS and do more work in the area of family planning," he said, through an interpreter.

He said parents do not have control over their teenage children in the tent cities and have expressed concern that this could be devastating.

We must keep a watch on our youths and make sure that they do not become parents too early," Ormeus said.

Meanwhile, Gabriel Bedegian, Chief Technical Adviser on population development at UNFPA, said there has been a deliberate attempt by some countries to paint the Haitian man as a rapist. He said the increase is best explained by people seeking to use sex for comfort after the catastrophe and noted that promiscuity could also be a reason for the increase.