Coordinator of the Programme for the Reduction of Maternal and Child Mortality (PROMAC) in the Ministry of Health and Wellness, Dr. Simone Spence, says a whole-of-society approach is critical in effectively addressing the needs of pregnant women.
She contended that when an expectant mother is fully supported in all areas of her life, throughout the antenatal and postnatal period, the likelihood of a positive outcome for mother and baby increases.
She noted for example, that in the workplace, employees can ensure that pregnant women get time off for clinic appointments, adding that the hope is that they would not be penalised by not being paid for missing a day of work.
“When Mommy has delivered her baby, giving her paid maternity leave to be able to support herself and her child during that period is something that employers can look at in terms of their maternity-leave policies,” she said further.
Dr. Spence, who is also the Director of Health Promotion and Protection in the Ministry, stressed that when expectant mothers are supported, they have less to worry about and are in a better condition to have a safe and healthy delivery.
“As nurturers and as mothers, these women are the persons who are actually supporting our children, the next generation, so it is really important to ensure that Mommy has a healthy pregnancy to have a healthy baby, who will grow up into a strong child and an adult who will positively contribute to our society,” she noted.
Part of Component 4 of PROMAC, which involves increasing knowledge and awareness about the importance of health-seeking behaviours before, during and after pregnancy, is enhancing the role and effectiveness of civil society in supporting maternal health through patient rights advocacy.
Dr. Spence said that through the European Union (EU) and the University of the West Indies (UWI) Community Health and Psychiatry Department and the Women’s Resource and Outreach Centre, a campaign was executed in keeping with this focus.
PROMAC is being undertaken under an agreement between the Government and the EU to the tune of 22 million Euros.
It aims to combat maternal and child mortality with a 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.