Crossing Borders to Access Care

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Today’s Washington Post draws attention to an influx of mothers seeking care after crossing a border into an already strained health system. According to the report, each year, and especially since the 2010 earthquake, thousands of Haitian women cross over to the Dominican Republic in order to give birth.

Haitian women make up roughly half of the patients giving birth in Dominican hospitals, officials here say. They come because they don’t have access to health care in Haiti, especially since last year’s earthquake. They come because they can get free health care in the Dominican Republic each year, and so that they can have their babies in hospitals instead of on the floors of their homes.

Unfortunately for these mothers, while the Dominican Republic offers them the opportunity for better care than Haiti according to a few key MH statistics, there is room for improvement in the DR, and “Dominican hospitals and clinics are being overwhelmed by Haitian women.”


Haiti Dominican Republic
Maternal Mortality Ratio (2008) 300 100
% of births attended by skilled professional 26% 98%
Lifetime risk of maternal death 1 in 93 1 in 320


At the MHTF, we are currently supporting research in the Dominican Republic by Stanton-Hill Research and Harvard Medical School. The project aims to validate self-reported data on the classification of cesarean deliveries among women.