Madame Ghislaine Francoeur was a role model for the Haitian midwife, and a great loss to the people of Haiti.
While this country is at a cross-roads, facing the loss of many professionals in reproductive health--especially midwives--we have just paid our last respects to Ghislaine Francoeur, Director of the National School for NurseMidwives at Port-au-Prince, who died at the age of 61.
Born on 1 February, 1947, she was married and mother of two children. She worked for two years in Switzerland, where she was the midwife in charge. Some knew her as the lead midwife in the programme for maternal-neonatal health at l'Hopital Justinien du Cap Haitien 1975-78, others as the midwife in charge of maternity services at l'Hopital de l'Universite d'Etat d'Haiti (HUEH) for 20 years (1979-99). To the nurse-midwives of ENISF, she was director of the national school from 2000 till her death on 9 May 2008. By her knowledge and skills, she contributed to the training of 233 qualified midwives, which will help reduce maternal mortality in Haiti--currently 630 per 100,000 live births.
She was always attentive to the problems faced by midwives in carrying out their duties and went to great lengths to offer support to newly qualified midwives.
Ghislaine Francoeur enabled us to solve the mystery of the midwifery profession. She was not only our director, but also a mother and a counsellor, who inculcated us into the ingredients of wisdom, which she believed to be the key to achievement and success. She introduced us to people who helped us advance our profession and the Association of Midwives of Haiti; she also opened the door which led to our membership of the ICM in June 2005.
Ghislaine Francoeur was a courageous, dynamic, skilful woman who fostered a spirit of teamwork and creativity; she was wise, responsible, of committed and untiring integrity, never failing in the accomplishment of her tasks. We know that we have lost a significant figure, and it is a severe blow to the midwifery profession in Haiti. But she has left us equipped to combat maternal mortality in our country.
She had been chosen to receive, in June 2008, the Marie Goubran Award at the 28th Triennial Congress of the ICM, in Glasgow, Scotland. Were it not for her premature death, we would have accompanied her to receive this distinction, given to a midwife who has worked for the reduction of maternal mortality in her country. This award, she had said, would go towards...