Fri | Aug 18, 2017

Paradise lost

Published:Sunday | November 1, 2015 | 11:00 AM

The state of the nation, upon review, is bad and likely to get worse in this electioneering period.

This past week, I had occasion to listen to a mother who had her first live birth, at age 23, of an infant son who was born prematurely and severely underweight. The child survived for approximately six weeks.

This truncated life of a challenged birth is not in itself an unusual occurrence. What was tragic was the callous, indifference with which the mother has been treated. She related a tale of limited information. This included medical personnel telling her they were unaware of the cause of the illness which was to take the child's life. They also sought the mother's permission for an autopsy to be conducted and then she had to pay $500 for a cremation to be done without even the opportunity to view the body at the morgue.

I am told this is normally what happens at neonatal facilities in Jamaica. This must be recalled in the context of the child being her firstborn. She was not a teenage mother. She had the support, care and companionship of her child's father and her mother. She had bonded with the child and made videos of her interaction over the six-week period of life.

To shunt her aside and treat her with scant regard reeks of a callousness that should never have a place in a medical facility. This medical institution frequented by a number of our people does not have a good reputation for caring, interpersonal skills.

Medical attention must be noted as generally acceptable, but the human compassion is nursing. A recent visit to one such medical institution saw us having to fend off the sales pitch of members of the contracted cleaning and porter staff. Those persons were aggressive in asking for lunch money and in stating they had available for sale supplies you would need, but not available in the hospital. The undertone in which this was communicated to a family under stress leaves a lot to be desired.

In all of this, let us recall that it was reported by the Global Action Report on Preterm Birth that one in 10 Jamaican babies is born too soon. The report went on to state that 5,200 of the 50,600 live babies born to Jamaican mothers in 2010 happened before time, which led to 200 of them dying from complications. The state of the nation is not good.

 

Murders increased

 

Crime stalks the land. Murders have significantly increased - 26! - this year over last year. The police would have us believe they are out in force doing the best they can. The evidence, as well as the word on the street, is that the police have retreated based on the desire not to be found in the cross hairs of INDECOM. They speak to an INDECOM that could find them guilty, forcing them to fight with all their energy and resources to prove their innocence.

They feel degraded by the stripping of their authority, weapon, self-esteem and deserved gratitude for putting their lives on the line for the citizens. The relationship between the police and INDECOM needs attention. Urgent attention. The state of the nation is not good.

What is the role of the Church in Jamaica's schools? St Hilda's, St George's, Campion, Immaculate, Ardenne and Alpha, among others, are schools with a very long history of religious affiliation and the obviously strong input from organised religion. What is the value of this were the agents of the state to intervene and bring, correctly, a different perspective, that of enforced human rights, contrary to the pre-existing standards? Just for a moment, think what would have been the converse of action had St Hilda's said it would not have abided by the dictates of the public defender. The school would have been hauled before the courts for daring to question and not give the convenient denial by a mother of her daughter ascribing to the tenets of another faith.

Yes, church schools accept students on the basis of GSAT results. The Ministry of Education pays the school for the placement. The choice of that particular school is, in part, based on the ambience of the school. Religious affiliation matters.

The public choice of a particular school is linked to the knowledge that the schools have guiding principles founded in their religion. We are not likely to have overreaction, but one has the feeling that the issue will arise again in the not-too-distant future. The state of the nation is not good.

The Senate is in chaos. The eight opposition senators have stayed away from the sitting in protest of the action of the president and government senators. The members have degenerated into public discourse over who was in the bathroom or not; over the dispatch of a male to return a female member from parts of the building that were under electronic surveillance. That a copy of a letter which ought to have been in the custody of the Government and could not be located had not been turned over in response to a request from the president.

All these insignificant reasons have been elevated to importance in their aggregrate, resulting in the absence of the Opposition. What a country!

The Transport Authority has a court order to pay a citizen some J$10 million for improper acts. Some 240 persons have died in the carnage on our roads so far this year. No legislative review and action, yet a cass-cass about a lady's handbag. The state of the nation is found wanting.

- Ronald Mason is an attorney-at-law. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and nationsagenda@gmail.com.