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The Opposition is alarmed at the number of deaths of babies now being reported in the Gleaner (Sunday 30th October 2016) today. We hold the Minister of Health, Dr. Christopher Tufton ultimately responsible for any misinformation previously shared with the Jamaican people from the Ministry of Health, especially as it relates to such a sensitive matter as to the death of babies. The Opposition once again wishes to express condolences to all the mothers and fathers who lost their babies.

Minister Tufton had ordered an investigation after the Gleaner report of October 9, 2016 of babies dying at the Victoria Jubilee Hospital and at the time said, he was not aware of the situation.
The Minister and his team in a subsequent press conference told the nation there were only four such deaths at the Victoria Jubilee Hospital. Dr. Tufton further tabled in Parliament, a report of his investigation supporting this claim, which is seemingly now quite questionable.

This act by the Minister was clearly a PR approach to the management of information about the nation’s health with selfish political interest, which also now suggests no proper investigation was done.

Despite claims by the Minister that the Opposition was being mischievous when it questioned the validity of the report, Opposition Spokesperson Mr Horace Dalley who then stated the questions were in the best interest of the nation, is now proving to have been very pointed.

The Opposition maintains that the Minister is ultimately responsible to the people of Jamaica as to the information that is provided from the Ministry of Health. The Minister should have used this opportunity to conduct an independent investigation into the deaths of these babies and find a remedy for this situation.

“We are maintaining that an immediate solution by the government is necessary, outside of blaming the grieving mothers for the death of their babies,” Mr. Dalley said.

If the chairman of SERHA is now admitting to the death of some forty babies, the opposition is wondering what the true number of deaths is across the nurseries in the country. Reporting on a fraction of the number of deaths cannot be acceptable and the Minister must explain to the nation the true situation regarding the deaths of these babies, including why the nation was told there were only four deaths.

The Opposition is again calling for an independent body to investigate this crisis that is facing the nation’s nurseries. This body must include professionals with the requisite technical skill and must be independent of staff at the Ministry of Health and the Regional Health Authorities.