REMARKS BY HIS EXCELLENCY THE GOVERNOR-GENERAL THE MOST HONOURABLE SIR PATRICK ALLEN ON, GCMG, CD AT TOUR OF VICTORIA JUBILEE HOSPITAL, TUESDAY 22nd DECEMBER 2009 10 A.M.

Introduction

It is a pleasure for Lady Allen and me to visit with the staff and patients of the Victoria Jubilee Hospital.  This is our final stop in a series of visits to hospitals across Jamaica. Yesterday we visited with the patients and staff at the Bustamante Hospital for Children – the only specialist hospital of its kind in the Caribbean.  Today we are visiting another specialist hospital – the Victoria Jubilee Hospital.

These tours are organized to coincide with the celebration of Christmas which recognises the birth of Christ.  We consider these visits a very serious responsibility and a role that must be fulfilled earnestly.  We sincerely appreciate your accommodating us today and we thank you for the hospitality extended to us since our arrival, as you took us on the tour and allowed us to experience first hand what you call Jubilee.

The Hospital was opened in 1891 and occupies a special place in the hearts of Jamaicans, many of whom took their first breath of life at this facility.  You have the important duty of taking care of people from their conception and ensuring that they start life on the right footing.  The hospital was named in honour of Queen Victoria whose reign of the United Kingdom and Ireland lasted some 63 years.  During her reign, she placed a strong emphasis on morality and family values and created for Britain, the concept of the “family monarchy”, a concept by which that society is still defined.  This hospital is a fitting tribute and those who serve in it should ensure that the importance of family values and good parenting are impressed upon mothers even before they leave this facility to return to their homes.

VJH and Christmas

The hospital is usually abuzz with excitement at Christmas, as medical, nursing and administrative staff eagerly anticipate the arrival of the first baby born on Christmas and New Year’s Day.  You have managed to involve the rest of Jamaica in the excitement, as news of the birth is published in the print and electronic media.  Like the wise men who came to pay their respect to the Christ and brought gifts of gold, frankincense and mirth, many well wishers and companies descend on the lucky mother and child with gifts.  The gifts that will be presented and the memories of that special moment, will undoubtedly be treasured for many years to come, and serve as a catalyst for creating a nurturing, caring and loving environment in which the child will should grow and develop.

Celebration of the first born on these two days, bears some resemblance to the birth of Christ and carries with it a sense of hope that these children will be nurtured into becoming exemplary citizens of Jamaica, who embrace and embody the norms and values of a wholesome Jamaican society which by God’s grace we will be able to create.  This is within our grasp and is achievable if we work together as one team – team Jamaica, with the family at the centre.

Specialist Care at VJH

Victoria Jubilee Hospital’s health care practitioners offer specialist care in maternal and neonatal health care as their contribution to the health and well being of Jamaicans. Your care and delivery of babies come at the point of conception where the mind, body and spirit come together in the formation a human being.

Maternal and neonatal care is an emerging field of medicine that has seen tremendous advancements in recent years. It is no longer confined to merely providing health care to expecting mothers, new trends in the treatment and care fetus in the womb have become commonplace. Diagnostic techniques have also advanced greatly in the past two decades. Often, treatment options can be considered and performed in time to result in healthy infants.  Surgeries can be performed on the fetus, and premature babies now stand a greater chance of surviving well beyond their first birthday.

As further research is performed, new and exciting techniques for preserving the health of a fetus and fixing potential problems before birth are entering mainstream practice.  I believe that at Victoria Jubilee you too must be, and by your own account, you are at the cutting edge of technology in this very important area of health care delivery.

Health and Wellness

Maternal and neonatal health care are linked to the equation of health and wellness.  Health and wellness are characteristic features of more developed societies.  These elements are key ingredients of any integrated policy structure that seeks to improve overall access to and delivery of quality health care.  Victoria Jubilee Hospital is no stranger to health reform and rationalization and has consistently upgraded and expanded its services to meet the changing needs and conditions of society.

When population data in the 1970s highlighted a need for population control, Victoria Jubilee Hospital was at the forefront of implementing the National Family Planning Programme.  Expansion of the hospital bed capacity, the installation of state-of-the-art equipment and emphasis on training in midwifery and the upgrade of other areas related to maternal health, have significantly improved service delivery at this specialist hospital.

According to the Pan-American Health Organization’s 2007 Health in the Americas Report, prenatal visits by mothers at any of the island’s 23 hospitals and approximately 314 health centres increased to nearly 70 per cent in 2005.  The same report highlights the fact that 98.2 per cent of babies were born in a hospital and obstetric deaths (women who die in child birth) is on the decline.  This has been buttressed by increased maternal health surveillance by health workers at the community level to further increase the level of health coverage especially in the rural areas.

Commendations

Despite the constraints the data above show that the health sector has performed creditably in the delivery of maternal care and treatment.  The positive results that we see in the health sector despite the constraints, make your effort and contribution all the more appreciated. You continuously demonstrate that it is not only about money, but fulfilling your mission in life.

You are qualified and hard working individuals whose services are in high demand in other countries.  We therefore appreciate that you have remained in Jamaica to help build your country, by providing us with the critical health care services necessary for our development.   You are definitely what is right with Jamaica and I believe that together we will make Jamaica a healthier and stronger nation.

Conclusion

As you carry out your responsibilities with the utmost selflessness, we wish you God’s richest blessings.  Jamaica stands ready to join you in celebrating the birth of the first born babies on Christmas and New Year’s Day.  Enjoy the season and I hope you will not have too many emergencies, stress or strain. Thank you and best wishes to you and your family.