Baby’s Death at Christmas Signals Need to Prioritise Maternal, Child Health

It’s a bit of a mouthful, I know, but if you have not heard of it already, this article is written by the Partnership for the Promotion of Patients’ Rights in Maternal, Neonatal and Infant Health in Jamaica project, funded by the European Union. Jamaica unfortunately did not reach the UN Millennium Development Goal (MDG) #5. There is more work to be done, and an important part of it is to make mothers, fathers and their families aware of their health rights. Here the project points to a particular case that highlights some of the issues involved.

Women's Resource & Outreach Centre logo

Baby’s death at Christmas signals need to prioritise maternal, child health

KINGSTON, Jamaica. February 5, 2018. The reported circumstances surrounding the death of a baby in Mavis Bank, St Andrew at Christmas has brought into sharp focus the need to prioritise maternal and child health in Jamaica.

This is according to principals for the Partnership for the Promotion of Patients’ Rights in Maternal, Neonatal and Infant Health (MNIH) in Jamaica project.

“As a group, we join with the larger community in asking for answers and in the effort to address these issues,” said Professor Wendel Abel, head of the Department of Community Health and Psychiatry (DCHP) at the University of the West Indies (UWI).

Abel is also lead investigator for the project on which the UWI DCHP has partnered with the Women’s Resource and Outreach Centre (WROC).

According to a December 31, 2017 newspaper report, the baby died after the mother went into labour on Christmas Eve, a month earlier than anticipated. The frantic father of the baby had allegedly been unable to secure transportation assistance for the mother from the police, who were said to be down to a skeletal staff.

Together with statistics reflecting the reality of the health of mothers and their children in Jamaica, the case is well made for prioritising maternal and child health locally.

Stakeholders at a workshop organised by the Partnership, last November. (Photo: Facebook)

Jamaica’s newborn mortality ratio was 11.6 per 1,000 live births in 2015 while the maternal mortality ratio was 89 per 100,000 live births. Also in 2015, the infant mortality ratio was 13.8 per 1,000 live births and the children under five mortality ratio, 15.7 per 1,000 live births.

The issues arising from the baby’s death include:

  • the ability of the police as first responders and emergency medical services personnel to respond to pregnant women in crisis;
  • the health-seeking behaviours of expectant mothers; and
  • paternal and/or community support for expectant mothers.

“We need to ask ourselves how we can support the police in their efforts as first responders. Also, how can we promote better health-seeking behaviours among our women? Further, what role can communities, as partners in health policy planning and monitoring, play to safeguard the health of mothers and their children?” noted advocacy specialist Linnette Vassell.

These and other issues are among those being looked at under the three-year project, which is funded by the European Union and which aims to strengthen patients’ rights, engender a sense of personal responsibility among users of the health care system and improve the role and effectiveness of civil society in advocacy for MNIH.

Dr. Carolyn Gomes of the Caribbean Coalition for Vulnerable Communities (CVC) – left, in conversation with gender specialist/advocate Linnette Vassell of WROC. (Photo: Facebook)

The Partnership for the Promotion of Patients’ Rights in Maternal, Neonatal and Infant Health in Jamaica is a collaboration of:

Department of Community Health and Psychiatry at the University of the West Indies, Mona, Kingston 7.  Tel: 1 (876) 970- 6626; 927-2476; 927-2893  Email: helen.fox@uwimona.edu.jm  

Women’s Resource and Outreach Centre, 47 Beechwood Avenue, Kingston 5. Tel: 1 (876) 960-9067; 929-8873   Email: wrocpromac@gmail.com  @NewWROC_Jamaica

You can find the Partnership on Facebook and at @HealthRightsJa

 

 


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