Health ministry distributes first batch of donations for Right Start initiative
The first 60 of 100 Snuggle Nests kits which were donated under the ‘Right Start - A Maternal and Newborn Care Initiative’ were distributed among expectant mothers, and in-patient mothers due for discharge at Victoria Jubilee Hospital in downtown Kingston on Wednesday, March 29.
Juliet Cuthbert Flynn, state minister in the Ministry of Health and Wellness, said another 2,000 Snuggle Nests will be ordered by the government and thanked the American Friends of Jamaica and Bailey’s Medical Supplies in the United States of America for donating the 100.
The Snuggle Nests kits are designed to provide babies with protection while their parents, guardians or caregivers attend to other responsibilities. Cuthbert Flynn said this initiative will specifically assist teen and adolescent mothers with a starter kit that facilitates a safe and secure environment for their babies in the neonatal period.
“We want to also decrease infant mortality and suffocation or strangulation ... I, myself, had to share a bed with three people and we know how it is. We don’t want the babies to get crushed and so the Snuggle Nest is going to actually provide a safe space for your babies!” Cuthbert Flynn said.
She said that Finland has started a similar initiative called the ‘Baby Box’ which has been integrated in their culture, where mothers are sent home from hospitals with similar packages as the ones handed out on Wednesday.
Dr. Garth McDonald, senior medical officer, Victoria Jubilee Hospital, said the gifts of maternal care supplies are additional incentives for mothers to come in for care, because “antenatal care is so very important in helping to prevent bad outcomes”.
Like Cuthbert Flynn, he called for mothers to always seek medical care for themselves and their infants to prevent infant mortality.
“Don’t miss any visit. Take every visit like a visit to the embassy to get your visa. That’s how important it is ... We want the mothers to come in. We want you to go to your health centres. We want you to go to your private doctors and then, we want you to be referred. And when you’re referred to the public or private institutions, follow up with your visits every single time,” Dr. McDonald implored.
He further commended the Government for partnering with the hospital and the donors.
“It’s always good when the government integrates and become a part of everything that takes place. And, as it relates to women’s health, we know how important every single woman is, and how important every child is to the development and the building of our nation,” he said.
Minister Cuthbert hailed the Right Start initiative as a means of helping to reduce mortality rates.
“At the Ministry of Health and Wellness, as you know, we want to make sure that we get our maternal mortality rate down to 70 per 100,000 live births. We are not where we should be now, and this programme is one such programme to make sure that we get our mothers into care before you give birth ... What this programme is trying to do is to respond to the vulnerable mothers of this country, specifically high-risk mommies, low-income pregnant women who we want to receive into care,” she said.
Jamaica’s current infant mortality rate is 10.668 deaths per 1,000 live births, a 2.04-per-cent decline from 2022. In 2022, it stood at 10.890 deaths per 1,000 live births, a two-percent decline from 2021.
In 2010 it stood at 21 per 1,000 live births from 26 per 1,000 live births.
Additionally, approximately 189 million women become pregnant globally with 122 million having live births, three million delivered still births and 10 per cent suffer maternal complications during pregnancy and delivery.
The Right Start Programme was launched on January 16 along with the Butterfly handheld ultrasound monitor which will help medical doctors to check babies with ultrasounds on iPads at bedsides and not using traditional machines in rooms.