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JAMAICA: Improved Care for Premature Infants and High-Risk Pregnant Women

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#Kingston, September 13, 2018 – Jamaica – Construction of High Dependency Units (HDUs) at the Bustamante Hospital for Children, the Cornwall Regional and Victoria Jubilee Hospitals will improve the quality of care for premature infants and high-risk pregnant women.

The ceremony to symbolically break ground for the construction of the units was held at the Bustamante Hospital for Children in Kingston today (September 12).   These are the final three of five hospitals across Jamaica where the HDUs have been introduced. Ground was recently broken for the construction of HDUs at the St. Ann’s Bay and Spanish Town Hospitals.

The HDU provides an intermediate level of care between that which is available on a general ward and in an Intensive Care Unit (ICU).  They are financed under the European Union (EU)-funded Programme for the Reduction of Maternal and Child Mortality (PROMAC). The EU is providing €22 million to fund PROMAC projects, a portion of which is to construct the HDUs.

Minister of Health, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, who delivered the keynote address at the ceremony, said the initiative seeks to alleviate some of the serious challenges associated with pregnancy.

“Motherhood for too many women is about ill health and death. Globally, every one to two minutes a woman somewhere is dying in pregnancy or childbirth. Ninety per cent of those deaths are occurring in developing countries like Jamaica, which clearly shows that we have a huge gap in the developing world and why a lot more needs to be done,” he said.

Citing figures by the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN), the Health Minister said that in 2015, the maternal mortality rate was 87.1 per 100,000 live births, and the infant mortality rate was 22.2 per 1,000 live births.

“Given those numbers, the work of the EU-funded PROMAC is absolutely critical, and we thank the EU for working with us on this project. PROMAC was designed expressly to ensure that our Jamaican mothers and children have access to quality care, through infrastructure improvements; capacity building for healthcare workers; the promotion of positive health-seeking behaviours; and enabling civil society advocacy for maternal and child health, thus reducing the level of pregnancy-related mortality and morbidity,” the Minister said.

“These HDUs help to afford mothers and newborns with life-threatening injuries and illnesses, including severe infections, the best chance at a positive health outcome,” he added.

Expected outcomes from the HDUs include improved newborn and emergency obstetric care, and improved primary healthcare services for high-risk pregnant women.

For her part, Head of the EU Delegation to Jamaica, Her Excellency Malgorzata Wasilewska, said “it is unacceptable” for women to have (limited) access to decent health facilities when they are pregnant and go through what is supposed to be one of the most beautiful moments in a couple’s life – delivery of a child.

“We are proud and honoured to support the ambitious plan by the Government of Jamaica to achieve its sustainable development goals and improve the conditions under which women go through pregnancy as well as under which they deliver children,” she said.

The contract for the construction of the HDUs has been awarded to M&M Jamaica Limited, with completion set for next year.

The PROMAC project is managed by the Ministry of Health under the supervision of the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), which serves as the National Authorising Officer for the project.

Construction of the HDUs and the training of medical staff fall under the five components of PROMAC. These are Newborn Care and Emergency Obstetric Care, Quality of Primary Healthcare Services and Referral Systems, Health Workers Training and Research, Support to the Health-seeking Behaviours of the Target Population and the Role of Civil Society, and Institutional Support for Programme Implementation.

 

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Bahamas News

Mobile App brings unprecedented access & opportunity to Persons with Disabilities in The Bahamas

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#TheBahamas, December 8, 2022 – Opportunities and services previously out of reach for many Persons with Disabilities (PWD’s) in The Bahamas are now easier to access with groundbreaking upgrades to the ‘AccessAbility’ mobile app innovated by the National Commission of Persons with Disabilities (NCPD), through a Bahamian APP developer.

As of January 2023, PWD’s registered on the App will be able to book accessible transportation, allowing unprecedented freedom of movement.

For now, services available on the App include free interpreter services for the deaf and hard of hearing; disaster alerts from NEMA; free registration with NCPD which includes mapped location of registered PWD’s in times of disaster; complaints mechanism; bus routes showing street by street movement ; request for adaptive equipment and other services; business directory for organizations compliant with the Disabilities Act; Career/job listings; as well as trending local and international news and resources.

Financing for the App and the related public education programme was contributed by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) through its Multi Country Office located in Jamaica which serves The Bahamas among five English-speaking countries in the northern Caribbean. The App is available for free download from Google Play and the App Store and is also preloaded on all new devices purchased from local telecommunications provider Aliv in partnership with NCPD.

At the launch event on Sunday (4 December), Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon.  Philip Davis said that The Bahamas aimed to achieve inclusion and accessibility on a level playing field for persons with disabilities and that the App was one of the means through which this could be achieved. He lauded the services provided through the app and highlighted the accessible transportation, one touch access to emergency services and sign language interpretation.

The Prime Minister announced that the Department of Labour will enable job listings in the AccessAbility app, and further reminded employers of provisions in the Disability Act for the employment of one person with a disability for every 100 employees. “I am asking corporate Bahamas to join the Government in recognizing the potential in persons with disabilities and providing employment opportunities that may never have been considered before,” he said.

Other major disclosures made by the Prime Minister included The Bahamas’ ratification of ILO Convention 159 establishing the right of PWD to vocational rehabilitation and employment opportunities, and the successful implementation of the Nassau Airports Development’s Sunflower Laynard programme offering empathetic and specialized service to travelling PWD’s

Minister of Social Services and Urban Development, the Hon. Obediah Wilchcombe, said exclusion of PWD’s over the years has been troubling, but the mobile app will help bring the community closer to realizing inclusion and becoming part of the normalcy of the country. “We are elated and moved. PWD’s are celebrating because we have come a long way and UNDP is helping to make a difference” Minister Wilchcombe stated.

UNDP Resident Representative Denise E Antonio said recognizing that Disability Inclusion is a development issue requires continued attention and investment, UNDP supported the Government’s mission to expand digital inclusion to marginalized groups through the Digital Access for All (DAFA) Bahamas Project, specifically focusing on the AccessAbility Mobile App and public education.

She reiterated UNDP’s commitment to improving ICT infrastructure and digital access with and for PWD’s in The Bahamas; advancing gender equality and the empowerment of PWD’s in The Bahamas and forging partnerships to identify challenges and potential solutions to reduce inequalities against Persons with Disabilities.  “It is crucial for governments, public and private sectors, to collaboratively find innovative solutions with and for persons with disabilities, to make the world a more accessible and equitable place,” the Resident Representative noted.

She encouraged Persons with Disabilities to register with the NCPD through the App to ensure they benefit from a wide array of services.

The launch of the AccessAbility mobile app will be immediately followed by a multimedia public education campaign to encourage awareness, downloads, and usage among PWDs.

Technology and digitalization are considered enablers in UNDP’s global service offer of six signature solutions focusing on leaving no one behind. To this end, UNDP partners with countries to develop appropriate digital solutions which help advance poverty eradication, inclusion, equality and crisis resilience.  UNDP Multi Country Office in Jamaica serves Jamaica, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, The Bahamas and Turks and Caicos Islands.

 

Release: UNDP

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Bahamas News

Tropical Storm Owen in December?

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By Shanieka Smith

Staff Writer

 

December 8, 2022 – A low-pressure system observed in the Central Atlantic Ocean has led the National Hurricane Center to believe there is a 50 per cent chance a subtropical or tropical storm will develop. They reported on Tuesday,  the system was 800 miles northeast of the Leeward Islands.

NHC said that by Thursday or Friday, the system should move northeastward, where it will interact with a mid-latitude trough, thereby limiting the chances of development.

The potential subtropical or tropical storm would become the 15th named storm of 2022 and will be called Owen.

Here is the very latest forecast:

Central Subtropical Atlantic

Showers and thunderstorms have increased since last evening near a

large non-tropical area of low pressure located over the central

subtropical Atlantic about 850 miles east-southeast of Bermuda.

However, the system remains embedded within a frontal zone, which is

expected to become more pronounced later today as the low begins to

move east-northeastward at 20 to 25 mph toward colder waters and

interact with a mid-latitude trough.  Therefore, while the system

could show some subtropical characteristics today, its chances to

fully transition to a subtropical or tropical cyclone appear to be

decreasing.  Nevertheless, significant non-tropical development of

this low is expected during the next couple of days, and additional

information, including hurricane-force wind warnings, can be found

in High Seas Forecasts issued by the National Weather Service.  The

next Special Tropical Weather Outlook on this system will be issued

by 9 AM EST Thursday.

 

* Formation chance through 48 hours…low…30 percent.

* Formation chance through 5 days…low…30 percent.

 

Photo Credit: ACCUWEATHER

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Caribbean News

Jamaica’s PM Andrew Holness goes to Washington to discuss matters to help with crime

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By Shanieka Smith

Staff Writer

 

#Jamaica, December 8, 2022 – The Prime Minister of Jamaica, Andrew Holness, travelled to Washington on Tuesday to discuss security matters with various US State Agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Justice Department. 

Holness said the aim of the meetings is to cut ties between local and overseas criminals and in turn strengthen the country’s crime-fighting efforts.

“I’m serious. If you are overseas and you are sponsoring, directing, and soliciting; if you are financing crime in Jamaica we’re going to get you,” he said.

In a press briefing in early November, the prime minister announced that a State of Emergency (SOE) was issued in seven parishes across the island. Meanwhile, Opposition Leader, Mark Golding has requested that the SOE be extended through to January 14, 2023.

However, a recommendation was made by the non-governmental human rights and justice organization Jamaicans for Justice (JFJ) to reject Golding’s extension request.

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