Tue | Jan 22, 2019

LETTER OF THE DAY - Shuffle out Minister Ferguson, quickly

Published:Monday | September 8, 2014 | 12:00 AM


If yesterday's Sunday Gleaner story pointing to between 200 and 400 children suffering with heart problems and waiting anxiously for life-saving surgery because governmental bureaucracy has hampered completion of a local and international private sector-funded paediatric cardiac centre at Bustamante Hospital is not enough to fire Health Minister Dr Fenton Ferguson, then I don't know what is.

Over J$100 million of private-sector funding had been pumped into the important project and because of poor ministerial oversight the lives of hundreds of Jamaican children, largely poor, are at risk.

The president of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica, Christopher Zacca, recently called on Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller to shuffle the Cabinet. He is right in his call. Several ministers are performing terribly, including Industry Minister Anthony Hylton and Health Minister Dr Fenton Ferguson, while others like Natalie Neita-Headley, Patrick Atkinson and Lisa Hanna seem like extra unnecessary weight. As for Phillip Paulwell, he seems to have the vision, but is simply unable to see things through to a successful end.

Back to Minister Ferguson, it is obvious that the public health system is running him and not the other way around. The maternity Victoria Jubilee Hospital ran out of water, chikungunya virus is spreading with wild abandon, the University Hospital of the West Indies canteen was closed after being overrun with roaches, several of its operating theatres were shut down because of failing air-conditioning units, there exists three-year wait times for urgent surgery at the Kingston Public Hospital and, on top of this, there are salary and allowance shortages by health employees. These issues and more are testament to his failure as minister to get anything done. He is out of his depth.

For heavens sake, at the Kingston Public Hospital, a malfunctioning elevator, shortage of surgical equipment, overworked surgeons and collapsing infrastructure is the daily norm.

The health sector is in need of a hard-nosed manager who can work under severe pressure and with a humbug bureaucracy. Dr Ferguson is not that person. Shuffle him out quickly, Prime Minister.

Dr Kerry-Ann Foster

Miramar, Florida