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March 24, 2009
Port-au-Prince Maternity Ward
Giving birth is dangerous business for Haiti's poor, who suffer the highest maternal mortality rate in the Western Hemisphere. Some 630 of every 100,000 women died of pregnancy-related causes in 2006 -- more than five times the Latin American and Caribbean average, according to the United Nations. The problem is heartbreakingly simple: Millions of women either cannot access health care, or cannot afford it. Haitian health officials made significant strides last year with a program to waive entrance fees -- the equivalent of 25 to 64 cents a day -- for pregnant mothers at public hospitals. But the women must pay for almost everything else, from doctors' gloves and syringes to medicine, food and transportation, said Jacqueline Ramon, a maternity ward nurse at Port-au-Prince's General Hospital.(16 images)

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Severin Carole, 31, gives birth on a mattress on the floor at the maternity ward of Cite Soleil's hospital in Port-au-Prince, Wednesday, March 4. Haiti has the highest maternal death rate in the Western Hemisphere, according to the United Nations. AP / Ariana Cubillos


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A girl stands close to a dirty area in the slum of Cite Soleil, Port-au-Prince, Wednesday, Jan. 28 . Haiti has the highest maternal death rate in the Western Hemisphere, according to the United Nations. AP / Ariana Cubillos



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Ines Thelisma, pregnant with her fourth child, stands with two of her three children at her shack in Cite Soleil, Port-au-Prince, Wednesday, Jan. 28. Haiti has the highest maternal death rate in the Western Hemisphere, according to the United Nations. AP / Ariana Cubillos



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A woman having a contraction, arrives at the maternity ward of Cite Soleil's hospital in Port-au-Prince, Wednesday, March 4. Haiti has the highest maternal death rate in the Western Hemisphere, according to the United Nations. AP / Ariana Cubillos



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A mother holds the hand of her new born baby at a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Port-au-Prince, Monday, Jan. 19. Haiti has the highest maternal death rate in the Western Hemisphere, according to the United Nations. AP / Ariana Cubillos



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A pregnant woman walks next to the bathrooms of Cite Soleil's hospital in Port-au-Prince, Wednesday, March 4. Haiti has the highest maternal death rate in the Western Hemisphere, according to the United Nations. AP / Ariana Cubillos



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A newborn lays at the delivery room of Cite Soleil's hospital in Port-au-Prince, Wednesday, March 4. Haiti has the highest maternal death rate in the Western Hemisphere, according to the United Nations. AP / Ariana Cubillos



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A pregnant woman, left, reacts while having a contraction at a Doctors Without Borders maternity hospital in Port-au-Prince, Monday, Jan. 19. Haiti has the highest maternal death rate in the Western Hemisphere, according to the United Nations. AP / Ariana Cubillos



maternity09.jpg
Severin Carole, 31, gives birth on a mattress on the floor at the maternity ward of Cite Soleil's hospital in Port-au-Prince, Wednesday, March 4. Haiti has the highest maternal death rate in the Western Hemisphere, according to the United Nations. AP / Ariana Cubillos



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New born babies lay at the nursery of Doctors Without Borders hospital in Port-au-Prince, Monday, Jan. 19. Haiti has the highest maternal death rate in the Western Hemisphere, according to the United Nations. AP / Ariana Cubillos



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Severin Carole, 31, is aided by friends while in labor contractions at the maternity ward of Cite Soleil's hospital in Port-au-Prince, Wednesday, March 4. Haiti has the highest maternal death rate in the Western Hemisphere, according to the United Nations. AP / Ariana Cubillos



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Lorete Wilsimo, 31, front, is aided by a friend at the maternity ward at Cite Soleil's hospital in Port-au-Prince, Wednesday, March 4. Haiti has the highest maternal death rate in the Western Hemisphere, according to the United Nations. AP / Ariana Cubillos



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A nurse measures the belly of a woman at the maternity ward Cite Soleil's hospital in Port-au-Prince, Wednesday, March 4. Haiti has the highest maternal death rate in the Western Hemisphere, according to the United Nations. AP / Ariana Cubillos



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A pregnant woman makes her way toward the delivery ward at a Doctors Without Borders maternity hospital in Port-au-Prince, Monday, Jan. 19. Haiti has the highest maternal death rate in the Western Hemisphere, according to the United Nations. AP / Ariana Cubillos



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Roseline Frederick, 19, lays next to her new born baby while her mother, left, waits to feed her at Cite Soleil's hospital in Port-au-Prince, Monday, Jan. 12. Haiti has the highest maternal death rate in the Western Hemisphere, according to the United Nations. AP / Ariana Cubillos



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Faraph Jannot, first left, looks on as a relative smiles while holding Jannot's new born baby at Cite Soleil's hospital in Port-au-Prince, Wednesday, March 4. AP / Ariana Cubillos



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