Health of­fi­cials stand firm on num­ber of baby deaths at Vic­to­ria Ju­bilee

Jamaica Gleaner - - FRONT PAGE - Ja­son.cross@glean­

THE MIN­ISTRY of Health has taken The Sun­day Gleaner to task over the pub­li­ca­tion of in­for­ma­tion from a re­port claim­ing that 26 ba­bies, and not four, had died as a re­sult of Group B Strep­to­coc­cus (GBS) in­fec­tions at the Vic­to­ria Ju­bilee Hospi­tal (VJH) in Au­gust and Septem­ber of this year. In a state­ment from the South East Re­gional Health Au­thor­ity (SERHA), un­der the names of SERHA Chair­man Philip Arm­strong and Dr Orville Mor­gan, se­nior med­i­cal of­fi­cer at the VJH, the ar­ti­cle was la­belled “ir­re­spon­si­ble, in­ac­cu­rate and an ab­so­lute mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tion”.

The Sun­day Gleaner stated, in the ar­ti­cle head­lined ‘Some­body lied, 26 ba­bies died’, that the VJH was re­quested to pre­pare a re­port on a clus­ter of cases of GBS in­fec­tions at the VJH. The VJH re­port was sub­mit­ted to a com­mit­tee set up by Health Min­is­ter Dr Christo­pher Tufton, which sub­se­quently pro­vided a re­port made pub­lic dur­ing a press con­fer­ence on Oc­to­ber 13.

Dur­ing that press con­fer­ence, min­istry of­fi­cials in­di­cated that four ba­bies had died dur­ing the pe­riod re­viewed.

How­ever, a copy of the VJH re­port ob­tained by The Sun­day Gleaner stated that there had been an “in­crease in the num­ber of in­fants di­ag­nosed with GBS and a sig­nif­i­cant in­crease in the num­ber of in­fants dy­ing be­cause of it”.

In ex­pand­ing, the re­port stated that there were “10 deaths in Au­gust – 60 per cent oc­cur­ring in VLBW (very low birth weight in­fants)” and “16 deaths thus far in Sept – 60 per cent oc­cur­ring in in­fants > 2.5 kg – sus­pected sep­sis cases ...”.

In the joint state­ment from SERHA, Arm­strong and Mor­gan said the Sun­day Gleaner ar­ti­cle sought to “un­der­mine the in­tegrity of the Min­istry of Health, the com­mit­tee formed to in­ves­ti­gate the clus­ter cases of GBS-re­lated deaths and health-care pro­fes­sion­als from the Vic­to­ria Ju­bilee Hospi­tal”.

The SERHA state­ment in­di­cated that the facts out­lined in the re­port is­sued by the com­mit­tee es­tab­lished by the Min­istry of Health “clearly show that while 29 neonates lost their lives be­tween Au­gust to Septem­ber 2016, four were re­lated to GBS and not the sug­gested 26 in the men­tioned ar­ti­cle”.

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