Pub­lic de­fender has no shame

Jamaica Gleaner - - OPINION&COMMENTARY -

THE EDI­TOR, Sir: DOES PUB­LIC De­fender Ar­lene Har­ri­son Henry have any shame? About two weeks ago, her dead-ba­bies re­port was dis­cred­ited in a way we have never seen a doc­u­ment from a com­mis­sion of Par­lia­ment in Ja­maica ripped apart and dis­graced. But Mrs Har­ri­son Henry hasn’t both­ered to at­tempt to for­mally, in a point-by-point man­ner, de­fend her dis­grace­ful re­port or with­draw it.

Ar­ti­cles have ap­peared in the news­pa­pers two to three weeks ago that showed the pro­fes­sional on whom Mrs Har­ri­son Henry based her con­clu­sion that noth­ing un­usual had hap­pened (Trevor McCart­ney) had pub­licly de­scribed the re­gret­table deaths at the Univer­sity Hospi­tal as a big­ger-than-usual prob­lem, as well as an ‘out­break’ and a ‘cri­sis’, which re­quired spe­cialised as­sis­tance from the min­istry, and later, PAHO ex­perts.

Then Prime Min­is­ter Por­tia Simp­son Miller, who had all the re­sources and ad­vis­ers at her dis­posal, had also ad­mit­ted that the cri­sis at the UHWI was an out­break and ab­nor­mal by lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional stan­dards. I find it stun­ning that Mrs Har­ri­son Henry did not in­ter­view Mrs Simp­son Miller or the sev­eral pro­fes­sion­als and health au­thor­i­ties who had ad­vised her and also de­scribed the sit­u­a­tion as an out­break and an ab­nor­mal oc­cur­rence.


It has also been pointed out that Mrs Har­ri­son Henry’s re­port, which claimed noth­ing un­usual hap­pened dur­ing June to Oc­to­ber 2015, paid zero at­ten­tion to the Corn­wall Re­gional Hospi­tal, the in­sti­tu­tion where most ba­bies died. In­cred­i­ble!

The pub­lic de­fender’s re­port has the ap­pear­ance of a white­wash. What is shame­ful is her at­tempt to blame the me­dia for de­scrib­ing the sit­u­a­tion at the UHWI as an out­break when Pro­fes­sor McCart­ney, who was the boss at the in­sti­tu­tion at the time, had used that spe­cific term. So, too, Dr Fen­ton Fer­gu­son, then health min­is­ter, the then chief med­i­cal of­fi­cer and the na­tional epi­demi­ol­o­gist, all of whom she con­ve­niently didn’t bother to in­ter­view.

Mrs Har­ri­son Henry should re­sign. Her ba­sic-schoolqual­ity re­port and fail­ure to mount a cred­i­ble de­fence have brought un­prece­dented shame to an of­fice that was set up with the most no­ble of in­ten­tions.

Is she hop­ing the is­sues that have marred her so-called probe will sim­ply dis­ap­pear in nine days and be for­got­ten by Ja­maicans, whom her of­fice has slighted and short­changed? Where is Ar­lene Har­ri­son Henry’s sense of shame? BRIAN CHUNG bri­anchung655@ya­

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