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Probe launched into deaths of newborns at Victoria Jubilee - Opposition suspects there are more deaths than reported

Published:Monday | October 10, 2016 | 10:00 AM
Victoria Jubilee Hospital

Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton yesterday ordered an investigation into the deaths of four newborns at the Victoria Jubilee Hospital (VJH) after The Sunday Gleaner revealed that the babies were among seven at the facility that had contracted sepsis, a potentially deadly condition that occurs when newborns are attacked by bacterial infection.

"I am deeply saddened to learn of the untimely deaths of four babies at the Victoria Jubilee Hospital over a one-month period. As a parent, I can understand the pain and grief currently being faced by these families," Tufton said in a statement released to the media.

Though Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr Winston De La Haye has explained that he has been corresponding with officials at the VJH since being alerted to the bacterial infection some months ago, Tufton has moved to establish a committee to probe the matter.

 

BACTERIA NOT INSTITUTION-RELATED

 

The committee is to be chaired by chairman of the South Eastern Regional Health Authority Philip Armstrong and is to release a report within a week.

De La Haye, who will sit on the fact-finding committee, has already stated that the deaths were caused by a particular bacterial infection related to a specific feeder of an organism which exists in the vaginal tracts of the mothers.

In The Sunday Gleaner report published yesterday, in which it was initially stated that seven babies had died over a three-month period, De La Haye was adamant that the organism that caused the deaths was not institution-related and pointed out that the hospital had taken proactive action by shutting down the labour ward for sterilisation activities.

The CMO said that a report was already being compiled on the specific circumstances relating to the deaths of the four newborns.

But yesterday, Opposition Spokesperson on Health Horace Dalley said he had cause to believe that there have been some 20 deaths of newborns at Victoria Jubilee and not four as has been reported by the health officials.

"We are calling for the minister of health to give full disclosure on the situation at Victoria Jubilee Hospital re the deaths of these babies. In our opinion, too many things have been happening in the health sector that the minister, on the face of it, seems not to be aware of," Dalley said in a statement.