Health promotion

Our vision: every Jamaican child gets the best possible start to life and grows up with access to critical health services, information and life skills.

UNICEF Jamaica/2016/Matthew K. Firpo

Challenges

While Jamaican children have universal access to health care, their well-being is compromised by deeply entrenched income inequities that create vulnerabilities for children, especially those living in rural and urban inner-city areas. 

Most Jamaican infants do not get the best possible start to life through breastfeeding. On average, Jamaican mothers only breastfeed exclusively for three weeks. Other major health challenges facing children as they grow up include obesity, mental health and STD /HIV infection. Many children and adolescents begin sexual activity at a young age – in a 2016 study, 37% of students aged 13-15 reported already having sexual intercourse.  Many also go on to engage in risky sexual practices that endanger their health and well-being. Adolescent pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections and sexual violence are among the most persistent issues affecting the health, social and economic progress and empowerment of young women and girls in Jamaica.
 

 

Solutions

Our Health Promotion programme has two goals which aim to strengthen the access to and quality of health and related services and systems for children and adolescents. 

  1. Strengthen institutional capacity for delivery of quality health services for newborns and their caregivers.
  2. Increase access of adolescents to quality public health services, in accordance with approved standards

We work with various partners on different strategies to achieve these goals. Examples include:

Photograph of a baby in hands

Baby-Friendly Hospitals Initiative: The joint UNICEF-World Health Organisation (WHO) Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) aims to provide safe child delivery services for women across Jamaica, reducing the risk of neonatal mortality during the first hours and days of life, and improving infant nutrition through the promotion of exclusive breastfeeding for babies for the first 6 months of their life.

Adolescent health - girl

Adolescent-Friendly Services: The Ministry of Health and Wellness has revised its standards for service delivery among adolescent girls and boys. The Ministry is currently implementing a national roll-out of the standards, which are meant to establish better health seeking behaviours among adolescents and ensure that young people are treated with respect when they access health services. Along with this effort, the Ministry has established Teen Hub – a non-traditional health service facility for adolescents that provides HIV testing and counselling, career guidance and activities to develop key life skills.

Photograph of Rushell Gray from Eve for Life with her daughter

Empowerment of Girls and Young Mothers: A unique programming approach supports and empowers survivors of sexual violence and provides mentorship to young mothers, some of whom are living with HIV. The package of interventions includes monthly support group meetings, professional counselling, access to adult Life Coaches and peer Mentor Moms.

Our implementing partners 2017-2021

Eve for Life
Partner Type: NGO
Eve for Life works to contribute to the Jamaica HIV response through innovative interventions that will prevent new infections and improve the quality of life of women and children living with or affected by HIV.

Ministry of Health & Wellness - Family Health Department
Partner Type: Government
The Ministry of Health's mandate is to ensure the provision of quality health services and to promote healthy lifestyles and environmental practices in Jamaica. 

Ministry of Health & Wellness - HIV Prevention Programme
Partner Type: Government
The Ministry of Health's mandate is to ensure the provision of quality health services and to promote healthy lifestyles and environmental practices in Jamaica. 

National Family Planning Board
Partner Type: Government
The National Family Planning Board works to provide guidance, leadership and advocacy and implementation of quality equitable sexual health education and services to enable all Jamaicans to achieve optimal sexual health outcomes throughout their life course.  

Women’s Centre Foundation of Jamaica
Partner Type: Government
The Women’s Centre was established in response to the high level of teenage pregnancy experienced by the country.