How Jamaica Is Improving Its Maternal Health Outcomes


In the western hemisphere Haiti has the highest maternal mortality ratio at 380 deaths per 100,000 live births. While Jamaica only has 80 deaths per 100,000 live births in comparison, the number of maternal deaths is still too high for the small island nation.

Last week Jamaica’s Ministry of Health announced that it would train 1000 health workers within six months to drastically bring down the number of maternal deaths. The training — which is slated to begin in June — is also aimed at saving the lives of more newborns and children. The training program is a part of a four-year $2.8 billion European Union-funded Programme for the Reduction of Maternal and Child Mortality (PROMAC). In order to reach MDG 5, Jamaica would need to improve its MMR to 25 deaths per 100,000 live births.

“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, said Dr. Fenton Ferguson, Jamaica’s Health Minister. “There will be High Dependency Units also developed at each of these hospitals that will facilitate much closer observation for emergency situations.”

Jamaica’s Ministry of Health is partnering with the Florida-based NGO, Footprints Foundation, in order to scale maternal health training across the country.

“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,” said Chief Executive Officer, Lorna Owens. “We are excited (by this display of) foresight and commitment by the Government,” she said.

The maternal health training by Footprints Foundation will take place in Kingstion, Mandeville and Montego Bay.

Photo: Jennifer James

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