Since 2005, National Council on Substance Abuse has conducted universal drug prevention education to adolescent and adult populations attending Government Polyclinics across Barbados. Several years later, after an exponential increase in the parent complement at the NCSA, an opportunity naturally emerged to integrate drug education into existing Maternal & Child Health (MCH) services at local polyclinics.
In April 2008, the NCSA Programme Officer officially started delivering drug education on a bi-monthly basis to maternal and child health clients at the Edgar Cochrane Polyclinic. This outreach proved timely, and by the end of the first quarter, fifty-four (54) female clients had benefitted from increased awareness of harms associated with the use / abuse of alcohol, tobacco and marijuana during and after pregnancy.
The NCSA Ante & Postnatal Polyclinic Programme grew steadily over the years, having been enhanced through long-standing partnerships forged with stakeholders such as Ministry of Health Senior Medical Officers, Kiwanis Club of Barbados South, and the Barbados Nurses Association (BNA) respectively.
At its height, the NCSA Polyclinic Programme engaged an average of fifty maternal health clients per week, as well as spouses and immediate family members attending visits at the following Polyclinics:
• Black Rock (Branford Taitt)
• Edgar Cochrane
• Maurice Byer
• Randal Phillips
• Warrens (Eunice Bynoe)
• Winston Scott Polyclinic
International research continually highlights harms associated with drug use /misuse during and after pregnancy. These include but are not limited to stroke, pre-term delivery, low birth weight, stillbirth, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASDs), a range of birth defects and developmental delays.
Therefore, in 2018, the NCSA Ante & Postnatal Polyclinic Programme was restructured in keeping with the World Health Organization (WHO) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and recommendations for antenatal care for “a positive pregnancy experience”.
Given recent developments with the global pandemic, NCSA anticipates resuming our Ante & Postnatal Polyclinic Programme in 2021, as part of our commitment to improve the programme content, drug education and delivery methods to benefit women accessing antenatal care.
During the next phase of the programme, we aim to facilitate a Training Needs Survey which will involve both public health officials and private sector medical practitioners. We envisage that findings from this research activity will inform the use of internationally accredited screening tools by medical personnel across all polyclinics island-wide, to help identify and treat clients who may be at-risk for substance use problems.