Minister’s photo with 14-y-o mother sparks backlash; MOHW clarifies Loop Jamaica

The content originally appeared on: News Americas Now

Black Immigrant Daily News

The content originally appeared on: Jamaica News Loop News

The Ministry of Health and Wellness has come out to provide clarity following backlash on social media after State Minister Juliet Cuthbert Flynn was captured on camera presenting gifts to a 14-year-old mother who gave birth to twins on Christmas Day.

“As is customary, and in keeping with her portfolio responsibility for maternal health, the State Minister in the Ministry of Health & Wellness, Juliet Cuthbert Flynn, along with private sector partners surprise mothers who give birth on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day with care packages to support their new journey into motherhood,” the health ministry stated in a release on Monday following the publication of the photo and a story elsewhere in the media.

Social media users had mixed views, however, with some saying the smiling minister presenting gifts to the young girl was sending the wrong message.

Among those who shared their thoughts on the image was Opposition Senator Damion Crawford.

“What is this .. what is this Jamaica? What is there to smile about here .. where is CISOCA in picture .. this vex me bad in the xmas,” he tweeted.

Another Twitter user commented: “Nothing to glorify but indeed everything to be happy about. A fourteen-year-old body survived such a pregnancy. Who knows what other complications she might have had along the way. Mother and babies are alive and assumed healthy. Love and supports what will get her through this.”

Cuthbert Flynn has since responded on her Twitter page.

“Regarding the presentation of gifts of a 14-year-old mother at VJH (Victoria Jubliee Hospital), at the time of the presentation, I was unaware of the mother’s age. Appropriate actions have commenced by the ministry to protect the mother and her children,” the minister said in the post.

In its statement on Monday, the health ministry said Victoria Jubliee Hospital advised that the parents of the young mother, who recently participated in a Christmas Day recognition at the hospital, had given consent for her inclusion.

“In the case of the young mother, the State Minister was unaware of the mother’s age at the time; however, the hospital has further advised that all the necessary protocols were triggered, as the young mother has been an active participant in its teenage clinic, where mothers 10-17 years old are given antenatal care.

“These young mothers are required to make a report to the Centre for the Investigation of Sexual Offences and Child Abuse (CISOCA) and the clinic partners with the VJH Social Work Department and the Women’s Centre as part of the standard of care for these cases,” the ministry explained.

Meanwhile, led by the State Minister, the Ministry of Health & Wellness said it is to shortly roll out a special maternal health programme aimed at tracking and educating mothers on the importance of seeking care for mother and child leading up to delivery.

The programme will also provide much-needed care packages for new mothers, even as Cabinet considers the policy on comprehensive sexual and reproductive health, the ministry said.