(L) FERGUSON… says he only became aware of the deaths last Friday. (R) SIMPSON MILLER… accused of protecting the health minister.
THERE is a renewed call for the sacking of Health Minister Dr Fenton Ferguson over the outbreak of healthcare- associated infections at the University Hospital of the West Indies and Cornwall Regional Hospital which have claimed the lives of 18 babies since June.
The Ministry of Health disclosed at a press conference on Tuesday that a total of 42 babies had contracted the infections, which have since been identified as the klebsiella and serratia strains. The outbreaks happened in the neonatal intensive care units at the hospitals.
A defensive Ferguson maintained Tuesday that he only learnt of the deaths on Friday, the same day news surfaced about the shocking incident.
In a press release yesterday, Opposition Leader Andrew Holness expressed condolence to the grieving families, and called on Prime Minister Portia Simpsom Miller to sack Ferguson.
“… The prime minister is protecting the failing health minister, is just as culpable for his failures, and should act like a prime minister and remove him,” Holness said while campaigning in Nine Miles, Clarendon South Eastern, yesterday.
“When 18 babies die of a mysterious illness and the minister of health is comfortable in saying that he has only just learnt of it… when the nation doesn’t even trust what the minister says since his Chik-V cover-up, and when we see the deterioration of our health services to a point which we have never seen before in the history of Jamaica, how can the prime minister not act?” he asked.
“I am very distressed that this could happen in Jamaica. The prime minister is answerable to the parents of these children as much as the Minister is answerable, because the truth is the prime minister has protected the incompetence of this Minister for too long. On behalf of the Jamaica Labour Party, we express our sincere condolences to the families affected by this latest debacle,” he added.
Holness, who served briefly as prime minister in 2011, labelled Simpson Miller as “irresponsible” for “having such a minister remain in the Cabinet”.
“…While outbreaks can happen, proper management of the health system could have reduced their spread and impact. This man should not hold his job and in any self-respecting democracy, would not hold his job as minister of health. We call upon the prime minister to act like a prime minister and protect the health of the people; remove that minister and place someone there who has greater competence in managing your health care. Enough is Enough,” Holness said.
The call for Dr Ferguson to resign comes a year after he faced similar pressure over the handling of the chikungunya virus outbreak which crippled the economy and has been blamed for several deaths.
Published By: The Observer
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