(L-R) SIMPSON MILLER…everyone must be held accountable. DALLEY…has replaced Fenton Ferguson as head of the health ministry.FERGUSON…has been reassigned to the Ministry of Labour and Social Security
HORACE Dalley will have two major tasks when he walks into the Ministry of Health this morning as the new minister — correct shortcomings in the sector and review the reporting structure between the four regional authorities and his office.
Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller told the nation last night that she had issued those instructions to Dalley, who today replaces Dr Fenton Ferguson.
Last Friday, Simpson Miller announced that she had moved the embattled Ferguson to the labour and social security ministry.
The reassignment was an obvious effort to stop the political haemorrhaging being experienced by the Government over the deaths of 19 premature babies from bacterial infections in two of the island’s major hospitals between June and September this year, and the response of the health authorities to the scandal.
The deaths of the babies, who were among more than 40 infected, exacerbated concerns triggered by media exposure that the public health system is in crisis and that it poses serious risks to patients and medical professionals.
Since Ferguson’s reassignment on Friday, calls have been growing for sanctions to be applied to hospital administrators and technocrats in the health ministry who advised him.
Last night, in her national broadcast, Simpson Miller, while not saying definitively that action would be taken against those individuals, pointed out that every hospital in Jamaica has a management team, including a senior medical officer and administrators. “Everyone must be held accountable,” she said.
“Our task is to ensure that as much as it is humanly possible, we eliminate such tragedies, which cause great pain to our mothers, families, and our nation,” the prime minister said.
She said that Dalley, who previously served as health minister, assured her that his first order of business will be to strengthen the system of health care delivery to eliminate the deaths of babies or adults from causes such as bacterial outbreaks.
She said the recent outbreak of bacteria in some hospitals “has caused more deaths than is the norm in hospitals in Jamaica and developed countries”.
The Government, she said, “feels the anguish of the mothers and fathers who have lost their babies. We are truly sorry for your pain and the loss of these precious lives”.
According to Simpson Miller, the experience has been “especially hurtful because my Administration has done so much over the past four years to reduce the number of deaths of mothers and babies during childbirth.
“We have made major investments in improving the healthcare delivery system; but gaps remain,” she said, adding that the audit of the health sector, which was commissioned by Ferguson but was only released to the country after weeks of public outcry, “gives an indication of just how much work we still have to do in this critical area of national life”
Published By: The Observer
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