From left, Dr Simone Spence, PROMAC Coordinator and Director of Health Promotion and Protection in the Ministry of Health and Wellness; Dr Christopher Tufton, Minister of Health and Wellness; Ambassador Malgorzata Wasilewska, Head of the European Union Delegation to Jamaica; and Lovette Byfield, Executive Director at the National Family Planning Board at the campaign launch.
NEW mother Marielle Wade shared that COVID-19 turned everything upside down during her pregnancy. Her planned delivery in a private hospital in Kingston quickly morphed into a Caesarian section in a public hospital in St Mary.
“I had several complications during the pregnancy. I am anaemic and was diagnosed with gestational diabetes and polyhydramnios [an excess of amniotic fluid in the amniotic sac]. I also have severe allergies and sinusitis,” Wade, 27, said.
With all those complications in mind, and the mounting fear of the spread of COVID-19 especially in the Corporate Area, at 34 weeks pregnant Wade made the decision to head to the parish of her birth to welcome her firstborn.
“I requested my files from my obstetrician-gynaecologist in Kingston. I shared all those lab results and info from my file with Dr Glenton Strachan in Annotto Bay Hospital,” she shared.
Her case was such that after several weeks of follow-up appointments, she was given a letter of referral for registration and was admitted there for delivery at 37 weeks.
Dr Strachan also found the baby to be positioned high in the birth canal, so a C-section was scheduled.
Wade considers the delivery of a seven-pound-plus baby boy, despite having multiple complications, as her 'beating the odds'.
“I was closely monitored by the antenatal nurses as I was considered high risk. The majority of nurses were very professional and friendly. I felt relatively comfortable and safe, especially with those on the maternity ward,” Wade said.
Post-partum, she still has to regularly monitor her sugar levels with a doctor as diabetes is prevalent in her family.
She shared: “The checks indicate that I developed gestational diabetes. However, it was a great indicator that I am at risk. Therefore, I have to exercise and eat right. I would encourage all pregnant women to ask their folks about their health conditions and do the necessary checks at the clinic.”
But more women need to beat the odds...
Wade's journey demonstrates the critical nature of prenatal health care for both the mother and developing foetus. It was through her prenatal visits that her anaemia, gestational diabetes and polyhydramnios were picked up, so she could make the necessary diet and lifestyle changes to carry her son safely to term.
It was also through these checks that her baby's foetal position could be ascertained and the necessary arrangements be made for her to have a scheduled C-section.
Unfortunately, however, all Jamaican women are not taking advantage of their free access to pre-and-postnatal care. As such, the Ministry of Health and Wellness has launched a new programme urging expectant mothers to do so.
The 'Healthy Baby, Healthy You: Healthy Body is a Mus'... Clinic is a Mus' campaign was launched last Tuesday through the Programme for the Reduction of Maternal and Child Mortality (PROMAC) and the National Family Planning Board (NFPB). PROMAC was implemented in 2013 with an allocation €22 million in funding by the European Union to specifically target Jamaica's maternal, neonatal and infant mortality rates.
“PROMAC is yet another very important initiative in keeping with our 2030 vision to reduce our maternal mortality ratios. It has created significant capacity in terms of infrastructure,” said Minister of Health and Wellness Dr Christopher Tufton, who was speaking at the digital launch of the new campaign.
The minister pointed to several high-dependency units that are being unveiled on maternity wards at hospitals islandwide, with the most recent being at the Victoria Jubilee Hospital last week. “These high-dependency units are equipped with all the necessary modern infrastructure to support both mother and child care. The EU has been a very important partner, and at a significant cost, and we are very grateful for that,” the minister said.
PROMAC coordinator Dr Simone Spence explained that the 'Clinic is a Mus' campaign will help to address some key areas of concern in maternal and neonatal health care in Jamaica.
“It was seen that this programme would be able to strengthen the health system and help us to achieve the specific targets: providing adequate access to neonatal high-dependency care; improving the management of high-risk pregnancies at the primary and secondary levels; to improve the population's health-seeking behaviour regarding maternal and child health; and strengthening the institutional capacity of the health sector,” she said.
The overarching objective of PROMAC, and each of its individual campaigns and projects, is to bring Jamaica's maternal mortality ratio to fewer than 70 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births by the year 2030, in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals.