Fine for JLP to politi­cise dead ba­bies?

Jamaica Gleaner - - SATURDAY TALK -

Kansas State wide re­ceiver Isa­iah Zu­ber dives for a touch­down dur­ing the first half of an NCAA col­lege foot­ball game against Texas Tech in Man­hat­tan, Kansas, re­cently. THE ED­I­TOR, Sir: I WAS ex­tremely ap­palled to learn that the most politi­cised story won first place in the Ja­maica Broil­ers Fair Play award. This is an in­sult to the field of jour­nal­ism and Ja­maica’s democ­racy.

The me­dia ought to be the van­guard and heart of our democ­racy, and a fail­ure to re­port fairly is a threat to our democ­racy. Also, when the me­dia politi­cise sto­ries, it is dam­ag­ing that na­tional con­tract and trust be­tween the me­dia and the peo­ple.

Last Oc­to­ber, it was re­ported that 18 ba­bies died as a re­sult of kleb­siella and ser­ra­tia bac­te­rial in­fec­tions. Re­cently, it was re­ported that seven ba­bies died from sep­sis. One role of the me­dia is to ed­u­cate the pop­u­la­tion. The sim­i­lar­ity be­tween kleb­siella, ser­ra­tia, and sep­sis is that they are bac­te­rial in­fec­tions that colonise the uri­nary tract, vagina, and also the in­tes­tine. These in­fec­tions are a greater risk to pre-term ba­bies than full-term ba­bies be­cause of the fragility of their im­mune sys­tem.

Thus, the same class of bac­te­ria that caused the death of the 19 ba­bies in Oc­to­ber 2015 is the same one that caused the deaths in Septem­ber 2016.

As re­ported in the Guardian news­pa­per in 2015, Dr Ali­son Ni­chol­son, con­sul­tant me­dial mi­cro­bi­ol­o­gist at the Univer­sity Hospi­tal of the West Indies, stated, “This is some­thing we have to deal with from time to time.”

How­ever, the then Op­po­si­tion Ja­maica Labour Party politi­cised the is­sue. For ex­am­ple, CVM, on Oc­to­ber 26, 2015, re­ported that An­drew Hol­ness had stated, “I hear the spirit of a lit­tle baby cry­ing, cry­ing, cry­ing, say­ing why didn’t the peo­ple keep the Ja­maica Labour Party in gov­ern­ment?”

Also, on Fe­bru­ary 17, 2016, at a po­lit­i­cal meet­ing in Stony Hill, An­drew Hol­ness said, “The JLP will win next week’s gen­eral elec­tion be­cause the party was not re­spon­si­ble for in­ci­dents such as the dead ba­bies.” I agree with the Gleaner ed­i­to­rial urg­ing that the re­cent dead ba­bies is­sue should not be politi­cised, but I would have pre­ferred if such a call had also been in Oc­to­ber 2015. ONEIL HALL oneil.hall@hot­


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