Over 1,000 health care workers attached to primary and secondary health centres and hospitals islandwide, are to receive training over the next six months, under a special Ministry of Health programme, to strengthen their capacity to deliver maternal and child health care.
The training exercise, to be delivered under the Ministry’s four-year $2.8 billion (€22 million) European Union (EU)-funded Programme for the Reduction of Maternal and Child Mortality (PROMAC), aims to enhance the health workers’ expertise and skills as part of efforts to reduce Jamaica’s infant and maternal mortality rate.
This is in keeping with the United Nations (UN) 2015 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) relating to these two areas.
The Ministry has partnered with American health organization, Footprints Foundation, to administer the training exercise, which commenced today (May 26), with an initial four-day workshop for participating health workers, at the Jamaica Conference Centre, in downtown Kingston.
The workshop is being conducted by the Foundation’s Chief Executive Officer, Lorna Owens, who indicated that the training programme’s full implementation will commence in June when she returns to Jamaica with a full team of trainers.
Health Minister, Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson and Ms. Owens signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), formalizing the arrangement, during a ceremony at the Jamaica Conference Centre.
In addition to the training, the Foundation will also seek to provide equipment to boost the health care delivery capacity of several earmarked institutions.
Dr. Ferguson, in his address, underscored the high priority which the administration places on reducing Jamaica’s infant and maternal mortality rates.
He noted that Jamaica has been successful in reducing infant mortality from 26 per 1,000 live births in 1991 to 20/1,000 live births in 2012; under Five mortality from 28/1,000 live births in 1990 to 20/1,000 live births in 2012; and maternal mortality from 110/100,000 live births in 1990 to 83.1/100,000 live births in 2012.
“However, we have much to accomplish to achieve MDGs Four and Five, which would see us reducing under Five mortality to 10/1,000 live births, and maternal mortality to 25/100,000 live births,” the Minister said.
Dr. Ferguson said that through the support of the PROMAC project and Footprints Foundation, “we are able to prioritize the areas within the programme that need to be targeted.”
“We will be improving newborn care and emergency obstetric care in six of our hospitals – one in each of our four (health) regions, in addition to two of our specialist hospitals – the Victoria Jubilee Hospital and the Bustamante Hospital for Children. There will be High Dependency Units also developed at each of these hospitals that will facilitate much closer observation for emergency situations,” he outlined.
Other interventions to further reduce maternal and child mortality, Dr. Ferguson further informed, include: improving the quality of primary healthcare services; collaborating with the University of the West Indies (UWI) in research, and training for health workers; institutional strengthening; and engaging the support of civil society.
Meanwhile, Ms. Owens welcomed the Government of Jamaica’s commitment to instituting a “designated programme” for reducing maternal and infant mortality.
“As we (Footprints Foundation) travel around the world, we notice that the countries who do best in reducing infant and maternal mortality, are the countries which have a firm commitment to this end. We are excited (by this display of) foresight and commitment by the Government,” she said.
Other speakers at the ceremony included: Minister Counsellor/Chargé d’Affaires of the European Union Delegation in Jamaica, Jesus Orus Baguena; and Health Specialist at the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), which is also involved in PROMAC’s administration, Denese McFarlane.
By Douglas McIntosh
Photo by: Michael Shaw