The Growing Role Of Matwons

As 75% of births in the Thomassique region take place in the home, training traditional birth assistants (Matwons) is a way for the Clinic to reduce maternal and infant mortality in the community.

The first class of Matwons was trained at St. Joseph’s Clinic in May of 2013. Since then, we have graduated two more classes of Matwons, and currently support and collect data from 29 trained traditional birth assistants.

At our monthly meetings, our Matwons submit reports cataloging the number of births they have performed, pre- or postnatal delivery complications, and any education they have provided for mothers and families after birth. These meetings act as a forum for the Matwons to discuss relevant experiences and complications with our midwives, who, after reviewing each Matwon’s monthly report, provide supplementary training and facilitate question and answer sessions.

In addition to further education, at meetings each Matwon receives 4 to 8 Clean Delivery kits, depending on the number of births they have performed in the previous month. Each kit is prepared and sealed at the Clinic by the Medical Missionaries Global Health Fellows, with the help of a few of the students enrolled in the Clinic’s Work-Study program.  The use of  Clean Delivery kits allows the Matwons to provide a more hygienically clean birth environment and reduce the possibility of infection during birth.

The Contents Of The Clean Delivery Kits


1/2 bar of antibacterial soap

2 pairs of gloves

2 razors

3 pieces of sterilized string

1 trash bag (33 gallons)

2 alcohol wipes 


Part of the responsibility of a Matwon is identifying high-risk pregnancies and taking the initiative to refer these women to the Clinic before delivery occurs. Our Matwons are additionally encouraged and reimbursed for accompanying birthing mothers with complications to the Clinic. After delivery, Matwons are expected to assess the health of baby and mother and, again, refer to our Clinic, to the Partners in Health Clinic in Cerca La Source, or Saint Thérèse Hospital in Hinche.

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