Wed | Feb 21, 2018

Fine for JLP to politicise dead babies?

Published:Saturday | October 15, 2016 | 12:00 AM


I was extremely appalled to learn that the most politicised story won first place in the Jamaica Broilers Fair Play award. This is an insult to the field of journalism and Jamaica's democracy.

The media ought to be the vanguard and heart of our democracy, and a failure to report fairly is a threat to our democracy. Also, when the media politicise stories, it is damaging that national contract and trust between the media and the people.

Last October, it was reported that 18 babies died as a result of klebsiella and serratia bacterial infections. Recently, it was reported that seven babies died from sepsis. One role of the media is to educate the population. The similarity between klebsiella, serratia, and sepsis is that they are bacterial infections that colonise the urinary tract, vagina, and also the intestine. These infections are a greater risk to pre-term babies than full-term babies because of the fragility of their immune system.

Thus, the same class of bacteria that caused the death of the 19 babies in October 2015 is the same one that caused the deaths in September 2016.

As reported in the Guardian newspaper in 2015, Dr Alison Nicholson, consultant medial microbiologist at the University Hospital of the West Indies, stated, "This is something we have to deal with from time to time."

However, the then Opposition Jamaica Labour Party politicised the issue. For example, CVM, on October 26, 2015, reported that Andrew Holness had stated, "I hear the spirit of a little baby crying, crying, crying, saying why didn't the people keep the Jamaica Labour Party in government?"

Also, on February 17, 2016, at a political meeting in Stony Hill, Andrew Holness said, "The JLP will win next week's general election because the party was not responsible for incidents such as the dead babies." I agree with the Gleaner editorial urging that the recent dead babies issue should not be politicised, but I would have preferred if such a call had also been in October 2015.