Nurses lament state of Jamaica's maternal health
Jodi-Ann Gilpin, Gleaner Writer
Victoria Melhado, the Nurses' Association of Jamaica (NAJ)/Lasco Nurse of the Year, is lamenting that Jamaica continues to lag behind in addressing maternal health concerns, including an unacceptably high child mortality rate, based on international reports.
Speaking with The Gleaner following the NAJ's 56th Annual Summer School and Gertude Swaby Lecture, held yesterday at the Knutsford Court Hotel in St Andrew, Melhado said Jamaica remained far from achieving a reasonable standard in these areas.
"We have been lagging behind drastically in our maternal (health) and mortality rate standards. In a recent (2010-2011) study done by the World Bank, which is the latest study, we were as high as 110 per 100,000 women, which suggests that we have a far way to go if we are to improve maternity health and reduce child mortality by 2015," she declared.
Melhado said she was encouraged by the fact that there has been some improvement in reducing the mortality rate.
"The region - and also Jamaica - has made some progress in terms of reducing child mortality. We (Jamaica) have a very good immunisation programme because we have managed to curtail diseases such as rubella (rubella virus) and measles, which were major contributors of child mortality, but in terms of international standards, we are still behind," she said.
Melhado recommended that more be done to provide the necessary resources and amenities to improve this area of health services.
'NOT A DISEASE'
"Pregnancy is not a disease, but there are complications at times. These are preventable, however, so I believe that Jamaica needs to focus on strengthening our antenatal care system, where we can identify high risks during pregnancy, anaemia during pregnancy, and other conditions," she said.
"We have to strengthen the capacity of the health team to perform an adequate quality standard of care. We are, however, challenged with resources, including shortage of staff.
"Our neonatal facilities need attention as many of our mothers who have premature babies have few or no facilities to deal with these issues," she said.
The NAJ president, Anthonette Patterson-Bartley, said the association would advocate relentlessly for improvement in health-care services in Jamaica.
"As an association, we continue to lobby for strategies and policies to be implemented that will gear us towards managing maternal health," said Patterson-Bartley.
"We also encourage our nurses to attend more educational sessions so as to empower themselves because as nurses, we are the bedrock of the health system and we have an awesome responsibility in maintaining quality health delivery in our country," she said.