World-class maternal medical centre
A state-of-the-art mother and child care centre is now up and running in the capital of Martinique. The new facilities bring the Caribbean island up to 21st-century European standards for maternal care and have already helped deliver more than 4 000 babies.
“Thanks to the new MFME we have created around 100 jobs – around 85% of which are held by women.”
Daniel Riam, CHU Directeur Général
La Maison de la Femme, de la Mère et de l’Enfant (MFME) is located at the Centre Hospitalier Universaitaire (CHU) in Fort-de-France. It is the result of a five-year project partly funded by the European Union.
A single modern centre
The island of Martinique in the eastern Caribbean is one of France’s four overseas regions. It is also France’s smallest region and its second most densely populated, with a population of some 402 000 living in an area of almost 1 130 square kilometres.
Martinique has a thriving tourist industry but faces several development handicaps – including its insularity, small size and remoteness from continental Europe. Such challenges are common to many of the EU overseas regions and have left the island trailing behind the rest of Europe in areas such as health and culture.
Over the last decade the island has taken steps to address these problems with EU financial support. The island’s original mother and child care facility opened in 1959, but was no longer fit for purpose by the late 20th century. Based at the Victor Fouche hospital, it was also five kilometres away from a similar facility in the more modern CHU complex.
So the CHU linked up with local and national authorities to build a brand new mother, woman and child care centre (MFME) on a single site within the hospital. The EU contributed almost 40% of the necessary funds. Planning began in April 2003 and the project ended in March 2008, with the opening of an attractive new centre covering 16 000 square metres.
Healthier mothers and babies
Today the MFME is one of four establishments at the CHU. It has more than 170 beds and specialises in paediatrics and gynaecology-obstetrics. The centre offers the latest facilities for medical imaging, consultations, operations and births. It also has a pre-natal centre plus a centre for mother and child care, high-risk pregnancies and family planning.
The MFME will help to reduce the island’s relatively high premature birth rates and infant and perinatal mortality rates. It oversaw the birth of around 2 000 babies in 2008 and 2 100 the following year, and has dealt with more than 15 500 paediatric emergencies.
The centre hosts the island’s interregional school for midwives. It now also has a reputation as a Caribbean leader in its field and offers its services to patients from French Guiana.