Wed | Feb 19, 2020

Health ministry developing sexual and reproductive health policy

Published:Wednesday | October 31, 2018 | 12:12 AM
Minister of Health, Dr Christopher Tufton

The Ministry of Health is pursuing the development of a Sexual and Reproductive Health Policy, which will create a framework for identifying effective strategies to reduce maternal mortality rates.

The framework will focus on strengthening the linkages between obstetric and non-communicable disease programmes and review the Ministry's capacity within the health sector to respond effectively to cases of unsafe abortions.

This was disclosed by Portfolio Minister, Dr Christopher Tufton, during the sitting of the House of Representatives recently.

"Jamaica is committed to reducing the maternal mortality rate to less than 70 per 100,000 live births by the year 2030. In 2016, the maternal mortality ratio was 110.6/100,000 live births," Tufton said.

He noted that based on data available, the most common causes of maternal deaths are pregnancy-induced hypertension; obstetric haemorrhage; diseases of the cardiovascular system; abortions (spontaneous and induced); ectopic pregnancy; diabetes mellitus; sickle cell disease; obstetric infection; and cancer.

The Health Minister was making his contribution on a motion calling on the Government to take steps to repeal sections 72 and 73 of the Offences Against the Person Act, which makes abortion illegal.

The motion was brought by Member of Parliament for West Rural St. Andrew, Juliet Cuthbert Flynn.

Tufton informed that in 2016, there were 1,177 admissions to the Victoria Jubilee Hospital for complications threatening the viability of a pregnancy.

These, he said, included incomplete, inevitable and threatened pregnancies, spontaneous abortions as well as induced termination of pregnancy.

He noted that 47 or four per cent of these patients were admitted with complications of either a failed attempt or completed induced termination of pregnancy.

"For the maternal mortality rate to be fully understood, more information is required on the circumstances in which the termination of a pregnancy occurs. Misuse of drugs available on the black market to induce abortions and the procuring of surgical services that are unsafe may result in serious complications such as haemorrhage and infections that can result in increased mortality," Dr. Tufton said.