Tue | Sep 25, 2018

Pack your bags and go, Dr Ferguson

Published:Thursday | May 7, 2015 | 12:00 AM


The minister of health, Dr Fenton Ferguson, should be sent packing, and the sooner the better! What more does he need to do or, more precisely, not do before the prime minister decides to fire him or demand that he tender his resignation?

Under his watch, public hospitals throughout Jamaica are grossly underfunded. As outlined by president of the Jamaica Medical Doctors' Association (JMDA), Dr Alfred Dawes, antibacterial soaps have to be cut in half, operating theatres are unhygienic; surgeons have to resort to using garbage bags as makeshift surgical aprons during surgical procedures, in order to prevent blood from splashing on them, and there is a shortage of many critical items, including, tubes, gloves, syringes, etc. Additionally, Dr Ferguson, though he was given ample warning and time to prepare for the chikungunya virus, fell way below par from preventative and management standpoints, before and during the onset of this deadly virus. Many Jamaicans, from Negril to Morant Point, died as a direct result of contracting chik-V or, indirectly, because of the negative effect chik-V had on their existing ailments.

Now, in relation to Jamaica's latest public-health crisis, Dr Ferguson's response/reaction is to conduct an investigation of public hospitals, with the aim to correct the problems outlined by the president of the JMDA. Beyond this, the health minister, in Parliament, opted to defend his ministry's permanent secretary, Dr Kevin Harvey, in light of Dr Dawes' no-holes-barred criticisms of the latter. Was Dr Ferguson not aware, or made aware, of the shortages of many critical medical items and the unhygienic conditions under which doctors, nurses and patients were forced to work at the nation's public hospitals? Why did it have to reach crisis proportions before the minister took action to address the failings of his ministry?

Dr Ferguson, who had inspired much confidence and public support during the early stages of his appointment, no longer enjoys the confidence of the public and, as such, should be sent packing!

Patrick A. Gallimore