Monthly Board Report - February 2001
Reproductive Health Program: An Overview
Submitted by Barb Guthrie, Public Health Nurse
The Health Unit has been mandated by the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care to “support healthy pregnancies”. There are many required strategies with which we have been directed to achieve that mandate. New program guidelines are imminent from the Ministry that may necessitate changes.
Our program goals are:
- To reduce the perinatal mortality
- To increase the practice of behaviours conducive to healthy pregnancies and healthy perinatal outcomes
- To support healthy pregnancies
Here is a brief summary of how and what we are doing:
Goal 1: Reducing Perinatal Mortality:
Low birthweight (below 2500 grams) is the major contributor to perinatal mortality and developmental disabilities. Other contributing factors include neural tube defects, and perinatal infections.
Through Prenatal Classes and The Good Food for Healthy Babies groups we provide education and support around behaviours which are conducive to healthy pregnancies. New initiatives last year included a revamping of the prenatal class curriculum and development of folic acid information and a plan to increase folic acid awareness. This year we will make some revisions to the Good Food group cooking/nutrition component of the good food group.
We had just begun an initiative of working with physicians and hospitals throughout the health unit area to provide consistency in early recognition of and response to preterm labour. This has since been taken on at a regional and then a provincial level and we will be participating in the development of provincial guidelines.
Goal 2: Increasing Behaviours Conducive to Healthy Pregnancies and Perinatal Outcomes
Being healthy before pregnancy is a key determinant of a healthy pregnancy. The health and health habits of both the mother and the father make a difference to the health of the baby. Preconception health messages have been introduced to the health unit web page (www.healthunit.org) and distributed to ministerial associations for inclusion in marriage preparation courses.
This year we will be providing consultation to schools about inclusion of preconception and reproductive health topics in the curriculum. Our preconception health pamphlet is currently being revised and updated. A workshop inservice on reproductive health issues for health professionals is another project to be started. Also, a reproductive health display for the general public will be developed.
A new pamphlet “ Is Someone You Know Pregnant” has been developed as a resource for those working with pregnant teens. It is now being formatted and printed and will be marketed and distributed this year. We will be working with clinical services to develop an approach to the prevention of teenage pregnancies.
Four mass media campaigns are planned to increase the knowledge of the general public about reproductive health issues. Topics for these will be: Prevention of Perinatal Infections; Tobacco and pregnancy; Preparing for fatherhood; Effect of workplace on pregnancy
Goal 3: Supporting Healthy Pregnancies
A strategy for ‘pregnancy–friendly’ workplaces was developed last year and resources for the workplace were compiled. These will be distributed to small and medium –size industries. As well we will continue to work with occupational health nurses and contribute to the workplace newsletter. A resource will be developed regarding the impact of hours of work on pregnancy. Also we will be contacting Ontario Ministry of Agriculture , Food and Rural Affairs and other community partners about exploring strategies to promote reproductive health strategies for the farm as a workplace.