Thu | Mar 21, 2019

Maternal and child mortality programme records significant progress

Published:Saturday | February 23, 2019 | 12:13 AM
Coordinator of the Programme for the Reduction of Maternal and Child Mortality, Dr Simone Spence
Coordinator of the Programme for the Reduction of Maternal and Child Mortality, Dr Simone Spence

The Government of Jamaica (GoJ) has recorded significant progress under the Programme for the Reduction of Maternal and Child Mortality (PROMAC) since its launch in 2013.

The programme, being spearheaded by the Ministry of Health under a GoJ-European Union (EU) bilateral agreement with funding support of approximately €22 million, aims to combat infant and maternal mortality by improving five focus areas.

These are newborn and emergency obstetric care, quality of primary healthcare services and referral systems, health workers’ training and research, support for the target population, and institutional support for project implementation.

PROMAC coordinator Dr Simone Spence said that significant work has been done under each component and indicated that the ministry is now looking to advance work to establish nine high-dependency units (HDUs) for the intensive care of babies and mothers in five facilities.

These are the Bustamante Hospital for Children and the Cornwall Regional, Victoria Jubilee, St Ann’s Bay and Spanish Town hospitals.

The units will comprise 65 HDU beds, 22 maternal and 43 neonatal suites, and accompanying equipment.

Dr Spence, who is the acting director for the ministry’s Health Promotion and Protection Branch, says construction of the HDUs has started, with ground recently broken for units at St Ann’s Bay and Spanish Town.

Additionally, she says the ministry has procured equipment to improve access to diagnostic and laboratory services, including blood tests for mothers during the antenatal period.

Dr Spence further tells JIS News that primary healthcare sites and community hospitals are being rehabilitated to improve the quality of service delivery and the referral system.

Meanwhile, six ambulances, which the ministry acquired under the programme, will be assigned to four healthcare centres and two community hospitals.

These are the Mandeville, St Jago Park, Annotto Bay, and Savanna-la-Mar health centres and the Chapelton and Alexandria community hospitals.

The PROMAC coordinator says fellowship studies in areas such as neonatology and maternal foetal medicine are being offered at The University of the West Indies, Mona.

“We have supported the Doctor of Medicine programme, in terms of scholarships in the area of anaesthesiology, paediatric obstetrics, and gynaecology as well,” Dr Spence said, adding that short-term scholarships have also been awarded in ventilation, obstetrics and ultrasound.