The Ministry of Health and Wellness has embarked on a national campaign aimed at encouraging more expectant women to access healthcare in order to improve health outcomes for both mother and baby.
The digital launch of the initiative, dubbed ‘Healthy Baby, Healthy You: Healthy Body is a Mus’… Clinic is a Mus’, took place on Tuesday (June 23).
It is being undertaken through the European Union (EU)-funded Programme for the Reduction of Maternal and Child Mortality (PROMAC) and is being executed by the National Family Planning Board (NFPB).
Among other things, the campaign seeks to educate and increase awareness about the importance of healthcare interventions, before, during and after pregnancy, in order to reduce maternal mortality.
It will also address issues identified as the main contributory factors to the high number of maternal deaths.
These include presenting late to antenatal clinics and delivery hospitals, poor management of non-communicable illnesses such as diabetes (sugar) and hypertension (high blood pressure and risk factors such as obesity, and poor nutrition and low activity levels.
The campaign targets all women of childbearing age, particularly those 35 years and older, and their partners.
In his remarks at the launch, portfolio Minister, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, said the campaign is important and is in keeping with the Government’s commitment to reducing the global maternal mortality ratio to fewer than 70 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births by the year 2030, in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
He noted that work to achieve this objective is being supported through funding under the PROMAC initiative.
PROMAC is being spearheaded by the Ministry under a Government of Jamaica-EU bilateral agreement with funding support of approximately €22 million.
It aims to combat infant and maternal mortality with focus on five main areas – Newborn and Emergency Obstetric Care, Quality of Primary Healthcare Services and Referral System, Health Workers Training and Research, Support for the Target Population and Institutional Support for Project Implementation.
Dr. Tufton thanked the EU for the support.
“For the past five years, the EU has been a critical part of or social and economic development through a range of activities… . PROMAC is yet another important initiative,” he noted.
Head of the EU Delegation in Jamaica, Ambassador Malgorzata Wasilewska, in her remarks said the Healthy Baby, Healthy You campaign will assist in improving maternal and child health outcomes.
“Too many women meet a doctor for the first time when they are giving birth, which means that they do not go to 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. Looking after the health of the unborn baby and the health of the mother is something that we are very happy to help the Government provide to the women of Jamaica,” she said.
Executive Director, NFPB, Lovette Byfield, said that the campaign will employ the use of traditional and new media in promoting proper health-seeking behaviours among expectant mothers.
Among the expected outcomes are a 30 per cent increase of knowledge of high blood pressure and its implications for health among pregnant women, as well as a 20 per cent increase in the number of women seeking prenatal care within zero to eight weeks of pregnancy.
“We want… [women] to recognise that once you become pregnant, clinic is a must and a healthy body is a must, because that is how you reduce maternal mortality,” she said.