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  • Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, says the Government is committed to advancing healthcare as a human right in Jamaica.
  • This, he said, includes ensuring access to timely, acceptable and affordable care of appropriate quality as well as providing the underlying determinants of health, including health-related information and education.
  • Dr. Tufton was speaking at the launch of the ‘Partnership for the Promotion of Patients’ Rights in Maternal, Neonatal and Infant Health’ at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston on Wednesday (February 19).

Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, says the Government is committed to advancing healthcare as a human right in Jamaica.

This, he said, includes ensuring access to timely, acceptable and affordable care of appropriate quality as well as providing the underlying determinants of health, including health-related information and education.

Dr. Tufton was speaking at the launch of the ‘Partnership for the Promotion of Patients’ Rights in Maternal, Neonatal and Infant Health’ at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston on Wednesday (February 19).

The European Union (EU)-funded initiative seeks to achieve widespread recognition and respect for patients’ rights in maternal and child healthcare in Jamaica.

It is specifically designed to improve health and reduce the deaths of mothers and children.

Dr. Tufton noted that the focus on mothers and children is important given that Jamaica is committed to reducing the maternal mortality rate to 70 per 100,000 live births by the year 2030, in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

He pointed out that, globally, approximately 189 million women become pregnant annually, 122 million have a live birth, three million suffer still birth, 10 per cent suffer maternal complications during pregnancy and delivery, and 40 per cent have morbidities and disabilities post-delivery.

He noted that every one to two minutes, a woman somewhere dies in pregnancy or childbirth.

Head of the EU Delegation to Jamaica, Ambassador Malgorzata Wasilewska, said the organisation remains committed to helping the Jamaican government to achieve better health outcomes.

She noted that the project is about creating partnerships to advance human rights in patient care, building awareness around health rights as basic human rights and encouraging actions that will improve the health and well-being of pregnant women and their babies.

Stating that “the right to health is the entitlement of everyone”, Ambassador Wasilewska said the project is also about empowering people to claim their rights and by doing so, to hold government and health facilities accountable for the quality of service they provide to patients no matter their social or economic background.

For his part, Project Lead and Head of the Department of Community Health and Psychiatry at the University of the West indies (UWI) Mona campus, Professor Wendel Abel, said the project’s promotion of health rights is important “because when our citizens are more aware of their health rights and they begin to claim these rights, we will have a more vibrant and responsive health service”.

He said that the initiative is one of the pillars under the Programme for the Reduction of Maternal and Child Mortality (PROMAC), which began in 2013 as a measure to help Jamaica meet the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of reducing maternal mortality and infant mortality.

The project was developed by the UWI in partnership with the Women’s Resource and Outreach Centre (WROC), which, together, are dialoguing with and mobilising organisations at all levels of society to build consensus and inspire action for greater recognition of human rights in healthcare.

The collaboration involves more than 20 civil society organisations, the Ministry of Health and Wellness, the Jamaica National Family Planning Board, the regional health authorities and healthcare providers.

The initiative is advocating for the recognition of patients’ rights as an important part of the healthcare of mothers and children; increasing the involvement of civil society organisations in bringing attention to the importance of patients’ rights in maternal, neonatal and infant health at all levels of society; and teaching the wider public to know and claim their health rights.

Under the project, persons are informed of their right to access, safety, respect, information, participation, privacy and confidentiality, and the right to complain and seek redress.

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