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Health campaign launched for pregnant women

Published:Thursday | June 25, 2020 | 12:10 AMJudana Murphy/Gleaner Writer

The National Family Planning Board (NFPB) has launched a campaign geared at promoting health-seeking behaviours among pregnant women.

Globally, every one to two minutes, a woman dies in pregnancy or childbirth.

Jamaica’s maternal death rate stands at 94 in every 100,000, and child mortality rates for the years 2011-2017 average 14.5 per 1,000 live births.

‘Healthy Baby, Healthy You: Healthy Body is a Mus’... Clinic is a Mus’ aims to increase the utilisation of clinical services, promote the importance of timely healthcare interventions, and improve health outcomes for women in high-risk pregnancies. The project is in partnership with the Programme for the Reduction of Maternal and Child Mortality.

By extension, it will reduce maternal and child mortality before, during, and after pregnancy.

NFPB executive director Lovette Byfield said that women tend to present late for antenatal care due to work and childcare obligations or because they are not first-time mothers.

“One of the very specific objectives of the campaign is that we want to increase by 30 per cent the number of women of childbearing age who can identify high blood pressure as the number-one killer of pregnant women in Jamaica,” she explained.


A 20 per cent increase in the number of women between zero and eight weeks pregnant who seek prenatal care; and also a 20 per cent improvement in the number of females who know that becoming pregnant soon after giving birth is not ideal for their sexual and reproductive health, are among the other campaign objectives.

Programme development officer in the Family Health Unit of the Ministry of Health and Wellness Dr Carol Lord appealed to employers to allow their pregnant employees the time to attend antenatal appointments.

“We are not only for maternal health, so their partners must also be able to come to the clinic to support them because they need support throughout the pregnancy,” she appealed.

During the digital launch on Tuesday, head of the European Union (EU) Delegation to Jamaica Ambassador Malgorzata Wasilewska said that the EU is focused on providing training, equipment, and infrastructure.

A maternal and neonatal high-dependency unit was recently opened at the St Ann’s Bay Hospital, and similar units will be opened at the Victoria Jubilee Hospital, the Spanish Town Hospital,and the Bustamante Hospital for Children by the end of July.

In addition, through funding the campaign, the EU will assist with communicating the message to women, particularly those who are economically disadvantaged or live in rural areas.

“I’ve heard too often in my four years here that too many women meet a doctor for the first time when they are giving birth, which means that they do not go to the clinic, they do not look after their own bodies, they are not aware of the risks that their unborn babies are exposed to during pregnancy, and that just cannot happen,” the ambassador shared.