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JAMAICA: Childbearing women called on to make personal health management a priority



#Kingston, October 9, 2018 – Jamaica – With Jamaica making steady progress in the reduction of maternal and child mortality, there is a call for childbearing women to make personal health management a priority.

According to Acting Director of Health Services, Planning and Integration at the Ministry of Health, Dr. Simone Spence, even though the public health system has been strengthened in recent years to offer critical care for high-risk pregnancies,  many women are not doing regular health checks or engaging in physical activity and eating healthy.

“Some women in reproductive age are overweight or obese, which puts them at increased risk of having challenges when they become pregnant,” she tells JIS News, while sharing outcomes from the €22-million Programme for the Reduction of Maternal and Child Mortality (PROMAC), being implemented at several health institutions.

Dr. Spence, who is also the Coordinator for PROMAC, adds that a grave concern is the number of pregnant women who do not seek medical care until the third trimester of pregnancy, “which is when you are finding that they have other conditions that can impact the health of the pregnancy, so your intervention at that time is sometimes a bit too late”.  She points out that the practice of expectant mothers waiting for weeks to get medical attention inhibits “what could have been prevented, better managed or controlled if they had done medical checks at the start of the pregnancy”.

Dr. Spence outlines that the Ministry, in collaboration with the National Family Planning Board, will be launching a public-awareness campaign to reinforce the health message for both the unborn and pregnant women.

“Key to that is the support that the community gives to women in the reproductive age group,” she says.

While stressing the intake of iron and folic acid for the pregnant woman, Dr. Spence advises that she should be the “healthiest that you can be, in order to have a positive outcome.  It is about managing your health, and making sure that you have regular check-ups,” she tells JIS News.

PROMAC is aimed at reducing deaths attributable to high-risk factors for mother and child, by the establishment of high-dependency units (HDUs) at healthcare facilities, with specialist equipment and personnel dedicated to caring for high-risk newborns and pregnant women.

The project is funded by the Government of Jamaica and the European Union (EU), with five core improvement components – Newborn and Emergency Obstetric Care;  Quality of Primary Healthcare Services and Referral System; Health Workers Training and Research; Support for the Target Population; and Institutional Support for Project Implementation.

Achievements under the project are commencement of construction for HDUs at the Bustamante Hospital for Children, St. Ann’s Bay, Victoria Jubilee, Cornwall Regional and Spanish Town hospitals; the training of more than 100 primary-healthcare workers in various modules of Neonatal Resuscitation, Obstetric Care and Customer Service; and the completion of a media public-awareness campaign, entitled ‘Healthy Baby, Healthy You’.

There has been project management training, in conjunction with the Management Institute for National Development (MIND), for officers from the Ministry and Regional Health Authorities.

Financing for research through the University of the West Indies (UWI) on the causes and risk factors of premature births, to inform policy for prevention and management, has been  provided; and 30 scholarships have been allocated in the Doctor of Medicine programme in Paediatrics, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, and Anaesthesia and Intensive care.

Short courses have been provided at the UWI for scores of health workers in Obstetric Ultrasound and Fundamentals in Neonatal Ventilation, under the contract with that institution; and 50 nurses have been trained in Post-basic Midwifery at the University of Technology (UTech).

Twenty-three nurses were trained in post-basic midwifery at the Kingston School of Nursing, while 25 dieticians and nutritionists have received training under the PROMAC initiative.

Another success story is the procurement of six ambulances for the Mandeville Regional Hospital, the St. Jago Park Health Centre, in St. Catherine; the Annotto Bay and Savanna-la-Mar Health Centres, and the Alexandria and Chapelton Community hospitals.  There has also been the outfitting of health centres and referral hospitals with radiographic and laboratory equipment.  The overall objective of the project is to improve newborn and emergency obstetric care in nine HDUs in five hospitals across the island.


Release: JIS

Photo Caption: Acting Director of Health Services, Planning and Integration, at the Ministry of Health, Dr. Simone Spence, displays an equipped bag for primary healthcare midwives.  Dr. Spence is also Coordinator of the €22-million Programme for the Reduction of Maternal and Child Mortality (PROMAC).


JIS Photo




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Bahamas News

Students display culinary skill and creativity in Bahamas Young Chef Competition



Lamont Missick with judges and teachers

#TheBahamas, October 19, 2021 –  – Despite setbacks and limitations due to COVID-19, Lamont Missick, H.O. Nash; Gerardo Annacius, Anatol Rodgers and Brianna Butterfield of Kingsway Academy, overcame the odds and finished first, second and third respectively in the second phase of the recent 29th Annual Bahamas Young Chef New Providence District Culinary Competitions.

With hybrid lessons and just two weeks of in-person classes supervised by teachers, the three students, who are enrolled in Family and Consumer Science Education, stepped up to the plate and earned the right to enter the upcoming third phase (National Round) of the annual contest.

Now into its 29th year, the annual district competition, sponsored by the Ministry of Education along with Robin Hood Flour and Mahatma Rice, was held at Anatol Rodgers Senior High School, October 7 and 8.   Under the watchful eyes of judges who are all professional chefs — Clement Williams, Jimmy Dean, Chief Judge Gerald Rolle, Hazel Rolle, and Celeste Smith — the students were required to use Mahatma Rice and Robin Hood Flour to prepare a dish and dessert based on the theme “Bahamian Culinary Resilience: Going Back to Our Roots.”

Following the grueling round in the kitchen and interviews by the judges, Raquel Turnquest, Education Officer congratulated the students and parents, and offered advice to the teachers.

“We appreciate all of the time and effort that you put into your children. This competition is a true partnership between home, school and industry. The chefs are willing to give their input and give them [the students] the benefit of their experience.

“We have three young persons who are very much into what they are learning in school. They are putting their best foot forward. All of them are automatically in the national round,” said Ms. Turnquest.

“COVID-19 is forcing us to use technology in new and creative ways. You are now able to bring industry professionals into your classroom almost on a regular basis who don’t have to leave where they are to get into your classroom to give the students the benefit of their knowledge.”

She urged the students to use the judges’ critiques to refine and elevate their dishes.

“You saw the experience of working in the kitchen with persons viewing and walking through while you are working. That is something valuable. Take advantage of it and we’ll see you again for the National round. Congratulations to all of you today.”


Lamont Missick, 14,

Flour dish: Pineapple upside down muffin

Rice Dish: Land and Sea Rice

Lamont said he used the opportunity to sharpen his culinary skills.

“I realized my love for culinary arts from the age of 8. I remember watching Ratatouille, and hearing that “anyone can cook, but only the fearless can be great. I aim to be great and one day become and executive chef in my own restaurant,” said the ninth grader.


Brianna Butterfield, 14

Flour dish: Sugar apple almond muffins

Rice dish: Spinach Carrot Rice Cup with grouper pineapple sauce

“I love to cook and I wanted to boost my cooking skills,” said Brianna.



Gerardo Annacius dubbed his dishes ‘Fall ‘n’ Love’.

Rice dish: Conch and shrimp rice ball with plantain and coconut deep fried in coconut topping

Flour dish: Toasted bennie spiced cream puff with native pumpkin and coconut crème filling topped with ginger caramel


All of the judges commended the students on their dishes and encouraged them to continue to work hard.

Lamont was praised for his organized and sanitized kitchen-station. Also noted was his flavorful ‘spot on’ rice dish from which exuded flavors of conch, lobster, salt beef and coconut milk.

Chef Williams encouraged him to improve his presentation and move away from serving rice the old fashioned way of “cupping” in a bowl.

The judges were impressed with Annacius’ theme: “Fall ‘n’ Love’ and gave him pointers on how to improve his dish and dessert.

“You experienced a slight setback in the kitchen and your dessert dish did not come out as expected — but you did not stop, you made an effort to present something. Your dessert was flavorful; it did not rise like it should but you executed based on what you had,” said Chef Smith.


By Kathryn Campbell

(BIS Photos)

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Caribbean News

JAMAICA: Frontline workers and athletes hailed for their roles in battling COVID-19



#Kingston, October 19, 2021 – The performance by frontline health workers and Olympians from the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo has benefitted Jamaica tremendously.

This from Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport Hon. Olivia Grange who made the comment while speaking at a virtual National Heritage Week Thanksgiving Church Service held Sunday (October 17) at the Waltham Park New Testament Church, 65 Waltham Park Road, Kingston, under the theme, ‘Saluting our Heroes…Safeguarding Our Legacy.’

During the service, there were virtual scripture readings by Prime Minister, the Most Honourable Andrew Holness and the Leader of the Opposition, Mark Golding. The service was aired on local television stations and streamed on the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission’s social media pages.

Minister Grange said that the work by the two groups, health care workers and athletes, “have benefited our nation immensely in the COVID-19 [coronavirus] pandemic times.”

She read comments from a newspaper article by nurses in St Ann, who had explained that although their jobs posed many challenges, “they were working towards a greater good”.

“It is a good feeling to know that we would go down into history as a set of people who did what we could do to alleviate the pandemic. It is a good experience to be part of this life changing time for the country,” Minister Grange recounted from the article.

The Minister said that the athletes should also be commended for giving Jamaicans “much to cheer about by their performance” during the pandemic.

“They represented us so well, that Jamaica ended up with nine medals putting us sixth place in track and field and 21st overall out of 206 competing nations. All of that against the background of the pandemic which had severely disrupted their training schedule,” she said, adding that the athletes should also be praised for setting a good example by getting vaccinated prior to the games.

Minister Grange urged Jamaicans to use Heritage Week to show respect and appreciation for the service and sacrifice of not only the National Heroes, but also for the “heroes of today.”

“It is important that we celebrate our National Heroes and the everyday heroes who make such a difference in our communities,” she added.

She said that the Ceremony of Investiture and Presentation of National Awards 2021 which has been pre-recorded to observe the gathering limits of COVID-19 protocols, will be aired on National Television on Monday, October 18.

In his virtual remarks at the national thanksgiving service, Governor-General, His Excellency, the Most Honourable Sir Patrick Allen said that Jamaicans should treasure and build on the legacy left “by those who have helped to shape our nation.

“Today we continue to use the inspiration and opportunities created by our heroes as well as the traditions of our parents to be our guide, to open new horizons of social progress, economic growth and individual excellence,” he said.

Release: JIS

Contact: E. Hartman Reckord




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Caribbean News

JAMAICA: Major Projects Coming to Deal With Lifestyle Diseases



#Kingston, October 19, 2021 – Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr the Hon. Christopher Tufton, says every effort must be made to reduce the incidents of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), as these beset too many Jamaicans.  He pointed out that the coronavirus (COVID-19) has increased the vulnerability of persons to poor health outcomes, while presenting a significant challenge to the economy. Approximately 15 per cent of the health budget is being spent on ailments associated with NCDs.

Among these are “diabetes, cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer – as is reflected in the 2017 investment case for the prevention and control of NCDs in Jamaica”, the Minister said while addressing Thursday’s (October 14) virtual launch of Phase-3 of the front-o- package labels (FOPLs) media campaign, being spearheaded by the Heart Foundation of Jamaica.

The campaign is targeting Caribbean countries, with concentration in Jamaica and Barbados. Minister Tufton said the initiative is timely and stated that the 2017 report indicated that the Jamaican economy stands to lose some $77.1 billion over a 15-year period (2017-2032), “should we fail to implement a package of interventions for NCDs, notably diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, tobacco and alcohol control,” he said.

Minister Tufton in stressing that the recommended investment in policies and programmes is a priority, estimates a yield of $2.10 on every dollar spent and said the health issues must be tackled.

“It is essential, therefore, that every effort be made to put the brakes on NCDs, with which so many of our people are not only living, but from which they are also dying,” the Minister told his audience, adding that 70 per cent of Jamaicans die each year from an NCD.

“Given this context, the Ministry of Health and Wellness has prioritised food

labelling as one of a number of needed interventions,” he said while highlighting that, among other things, FOPLs are intended to “transparently and clearly” indicate to consumers whether the pre-packaged product is within the established recommendations for health, with specific reference to salt, sugar, saturated fat, and trans fat content.

The Minister reported that his Ministry has a number of other actions to overcome the NCD challenge – from the development of the Interim Guidelines for Beverages in Schools to involvement in the LIFE project of the Caribbean Institute for Health Research. That project, he said, is investigating the role of genetic, lifestyle, social, and environmental factors in NCDs in Jamaica.

He also noted that the Ministry has launched a salt study to provide further insight into needed interventions. “The evidence is, however, that a number of health conditions are caused or otherwise exacerbated by a high-salt diet. The effect on blood pressure, stroke and heart disease is where the strongest evidence lies, but there is a wide body of evidence showing a link between salt consumption and other conditions,” Dr. Tufton said.


Release: JIS

Contact: Garfield L. Angus



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