McCaw-Binns, Affette M.
Author Affiliation, Ana.
Department of Community Health and Psychiatry
Safe motherhood in Jamaica: From slavery to self-determination
Pediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology
Date of Publication
The development of maternal health care in Jamaica is reviewed by examining government documents and publications to identify social and political factors associated with maternal mortality decline. Modern maternity services began with the 1887 establishment of the Victoria Jubilee Hospital and Midwifery School. Community midwives were deployed widely by the 1930s and community antenatal care expanded in the 1950s. Social policies in the 1970s increased women's access to primary health care, education and social support; improved transportation in the 1990s facilitated hospital delivery. Maternal mortality declined rapidly from 600/100 000 in the 1930s to 200/100 000 in 1960, led by a 69% decline in sepsis by 1950, and a 72% decline from all causes thereafter, settling at 100/100 000 in the 1980s. Skilled birth attendant deliveries moved from 39% in 1950 to 95% in 2001 and hospital births from 31% in 1960 to 91% in 2001. 80% prevalence of skilled delivery care. Deployment of midwives into rural communities and social development focused on women and children were associated with the observed improvements. Further reductions will require greater attention to the quality of emergency obstetric care. (AU)....