Probe launched into deaths of four new­borns at VJH

Op­po­si­tion suspects there are more deaths than re­ported

Jamaica Gleaner - - FRONT PAGE -

HEALTH MIN­IS­TER Dr Christo­pher Tufton yes­ter­day or­dered an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the deaths of four new­borns at the Vic­to­ria Ju­bilee Hospi­tal (VJH) after The Sun­day Gleaner re­vealed that the ba­bies were among seven at the fa­cil­ity that had con­tracted sep­sis, a po­ten­tially deadly con­di­tion that oc­curs when new­borns are at­tacked by bac­te­rial in­fec­tion.

“I am deeply sad­dened to learn of the un­timely deaths of four ba­bies at the Vic­to­ria Ju­bilee Hospi­tal over a one-month pe­riod. As a par­ent, I can un­der­stand the pain and grief cur­rently be­ing faced by th­ese fam­i­lies,” Tufton said in a state­ment re­leased to the me­dia.

Though Chief Med­i­cal Of­fi­cer (CMO) Dr Win­ston De La Haye has ex­plained that he has been cor­re­spond­ing with of­fi­cials at the VJH since be­ing alerted to the bac­te­rial in­fec­tion some months ago, Tufton has moved to es­tab­lish a com­mit­tee to probe the mat­ter.

BAC­TE­RIA NOT IN­STI­TU­TION-RE­LATED

The com­mit­tee is to be chaired by chair­man of the South East­ern Re­gional Health Au­thor­ity Philip Arm­strong and is to re­lease a re­port within a week.

De La Haye, who will sit on the factfind­ing com­mit­tee, has al­ready stated that the deaths were caused by a par­tic­u­lar bac­te­rial in­fec­tion re­lated to a spe­cific feeder of an or­gan­ism which ex­ists in the vagi­nal tracts of the mothers.

In The Sun­day Gleaner re­port pub­lished yes­ter­day, in which it was ini­tially stated that seven ba­bies had died over a three-month pe­riod, De La Haye was adamant that the or­gan­ism that caused the deaths was not in­sti­tu­tion-re­lated and pointed out that the hospi­tal had taken proac­tive ac­tion by shut­ting down the labour ward for ster­il­i­sa­tion ac­tiv­i­ties.

The CMO said that a re­port was al­ready be­ing com­piled on the spe­cific cir­cum­stances re­lat­ing to the deaths of the four new­borns.

But yes­ter­day, Op­po­si­tion Spokesper­son on Health Ho­race Dal­ley said he had cause to believe that there have been some 20 deaths of new­borns at Vic­to­ria Ju­bilee and not four as has been re­ported by the health of­fi­cials.

“We are call­ing for the min­is­ter of health to give full dis­clo­sure on the sit­u­a­tion at Vic­to­ria Ju­bilee Hospi­tal re the deaths of th­ese ba­bies. In our opin­ion, too many things have been hap­pen­ing in the health sec­tor that the min­is­ter, on the face of it, seems not to be aware of,” Dal­ley said in a state­ment.

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