The Government has invested more than $423 million to improve the health services for high-risk pregnant women at the Spanish Town Hospital in St. Catherine, with the construction of a high-dependency unit (HDU).
It is one of four facilities to have been built from funding provided under the Programme for Reduction of Maternal and Child Mortality (PROMAC), which is a partnership between the European Union (EU) and the Government of Jamaica.
“This is a significant added capacity to what is already being done by the Government to enhance the public health infrastructure in Jamaica,” said Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, at the official opening of the facility on July 9.
He argued that the programme was well conceptualised and that PROMAC has been managed effectively, where “tangible benefits” are now being realised from commitments made during the launch of the initiative.
“This facility is going to ensure that Jamaican mothers, supported by fathers, who have to use it for their newborn will have as good a service as at any other facility anywhere with modern equipment,” the Minister said.
Dr. Tufton told his audience that while no one will be denied services at public facilities, potential mothers must always visit health centres, and “follow through” with health advice that they receive, to minimise the need to use the specialised units.
“Let us always know that they are here for usage, but let us always ensure that lifestyle practices are in keeping with minimising the possibilities of using it,” the Minister said.
Meanwhile, Head of the EU Delegation to Jamaica, Ambassador Malgorzata Wasilewska, said the provisions for the health facilities result from four decades of successful cooperation between Jamaica and the EU.
She noted that the EU’s support is strengthening the health system to reduce the number of deaths relating to pregnancy and birth, adding that more than 230 doctors and nurses have been trained in specialised programmes under PROMAC, as “these are skills that will sustain staffing and operations at HDUs”.
The Spanish Town Hospital admits up to 100 women to its maternity ward every month, where five to eight per cent of babies are delivered prematurely. The mother now has the benefit of the new HDU, and a rehabilitated neonatal space and general nursery.