The ambulances were purchased under the European Union funded Programme for the Reduction of Maternal and Child Mortality (PROMAC), which is spearheaded by the Ministry of Health.
Speaking at the handover ceremony at the Clarendon Health Department last Thursday (April 20, 2017), Health Minister, and The Honourable Dr. Christopher Tufton said the ambulances will fill a critical void which has been partly caused by the number of inoperable ambulances currently in public health care facilities.
“Ideally, ambulances should be used for emergency transfers either between facilities and for initial access to a facility. We now use them to transport non-urgent cases because our overall fleet, which primarily serves our secondary care facilities, is wanting. Such is the reality of the tight fiscal framework in which we operate. I welcome the contribution of our bi-lateral partners, and in this particular case, the European Union. Their presence in Jamaica continues to assist with the development of our people and infrastructure.”
The ambulances which have been deployed to the Mandeville, St Jago Park, Annotto Bay and Savanna-la-Mar Health Centres, as well as the Chapelton and Alexandria Community Hospitals are fully equipped to primarily transport emergency cases involving infant and maternal patients between primary health care facilities and hospitals. It is anticipated that as a result of these ambulances and the continued work of PROMAC, there will a trending decline in pregnancy related deaths.
“The health of our women and new-borns is of utmost importance. While the fertility levels continue to decline between 2015 and 2016, we are pleased to note a 3% and a more than 15% reduction in the reported numbers of stillbirths, neonatal deaths and maternal deaths in 2016. We anticipate further reductions in stillbirths, neonatal and maternal deaths through the work of PROMAC which will strengthen institutional capacity to manage high-risk pregnancies”, Dr. Tufton affirmed.
Urging stakeholders to properly maintain the vehicles, Head of Delegation of the European Union, Her Excellency, Malgorzata Wasilewska, emphasised the role of the ambulances for preservation of life.
“These ambulances and in fact all the services provided under PROMAC can make the difference between life and death for mother and child. It is entirely possible to drastically reduce the number of women dying in childbirth but it takes commitment and all of us working together.”
Also using the opportunity to acknowledge statistics revealing the correlation between poverty and increased risk of maternal deaths, Ms. Wasilewka highlighted that the work of PROMAC will alleviate these disparities. “PROMAC through its holistic approach is supporting efforts to create a health system that is fully responsive to women’s reproductive health needs through the provision of high quality, comprehensive and readily accessible maternal and child health services.”
Thirty six health workers were trained to use and operate the units which are valued at €631,162 or approximately J$86 million.
PROMAC was launched to the tune of €22,000,000 or just over J$3 billion in 2013 with the primary objective of addressing challenges related to maternal and child mortality in Jamaica.
Contact: Althea Buchanan
Delegation of the European Union to Jamaica, Belize, Turks and Caicos Islands, Bahamas and the Cayman Islands Tel: 1 876 924 6333