Sun | Aug 20, 2017

Health officials stand firm on number of baby deaths at Victoria Jubilee

Published:Monday | October 31, 2016 | 10:00 AM

The Ministry of Health has taken The Sunday Gleaner to task over the publication of information from a report claiming that 26 babies, and not four, had died as a result of Group B Streptococcus (GBS) infections at the Victoria Jubilee Hospital (VJH) in August and September of this year.

In a statement from the South East Regional Health Authority (SERHA), under the names of SERHA Chairman Philip Armstrong and Dr Orville Morgan, senior medical officer at the VJH, the article was labelled "irresponsible, inaccurate and an absolute misrepresentation".

The Sunday Gleaner stated, in the article headlined 'Somebody lied, 26 babies died', that the VJH was requested to prepare a report on a cluster of cases of GBS infections at the VJH. The VJH report was submitted to a committee set up by Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton, which subsequently provided a report made public during a press conference on October 13.

During that press conference, ministry officials indicated that four babies had died during the period reviewed.

However, a copy of the VJH report obtained by The Sunday Gleaner stated that there had been an "increase in the number of infants diagnosed with GBS and a significant increase in the number of infants dying because of it".

In expanding, the report stated that there were "10 deaths in August - 60 per cent occurring in VLBW (very low birth weight infants)" and "16 deaths thus far in Sept - 60 per cent occurring in infants > 2.5 kg - suspected sepsis cases ...".

In the joint statement from SERHA, Armstrong and Morgan said the Sunday Gleaner article sought to "undermine the integrity of the Ministry of Health, the committee formed to investigate the cluster cases of GBS-related deaths and health-care professionals from the Victoria Jubilee Hospital".

The SERHA statement indicated that the facts outlined in the report issued by the committee established by the Ministry of Health "clearly show that while 29 neonates lost their lives between August to September 2016, four were related to GBS and not the suggested 26 in the mentioned article".

jason.cross@gleanerjm.com