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The Minister Should Have Known ... should be fired - Ashley

Published:Wednesday | October 21, 2015 | 5:12 PMJodi-Ann Gilpin
Dr Fenton Ferguson
Paul Ashley

The revelation by Health Minister Dr Fenton Ferguson that he was unaware of deadly bacterial outbreaks at two of the country's major hospitals has not settled well with attorney-at-law and political commentator Dr Paul Ashley, who has called for him to be sacked immediately.

It was revealed at a press conference on Tuesday that infections caused by the klebsiella and serratia bacteria claimed the lives of 18 babies and resulted in 42 cases in total.

Ferguson, however, told journalist that he only heard of the situation last Friday. That was the same day it was first reported in the media.

This Ashley described as unacceptable.

"He had people in the ministry who were supposed to inform him. There are people responsible for sanitation at the hospitals [and] the management team, who, following audits that were done, did not take corrective measures. All of these persons should be held responsible and fired. It is a dereliction of duty," he declared.


The attorney also noted that it cannot be business as usual, adding that lives are of utmost importance.

"We are being led to believe that 18 deaths are normal, and this so-called normality we cannot accept. It is contempt of the people, and we cannot continue with a health sector looking like this," he charged.

Jamaica's leading children's advocacy organisation, Hear The Children's Cry, is calling for immediate and full disclosure of the circumstances that have led to the health-sector nightmare.

"We are alarmed at the seemingly casual manner in which those responsible are dealing with this very serious tragedy," says founder Betty Ann Blaine. "We are left with the impression that these children's lives don't really matter.

"To say that the public should not panic is amazing," continued Blaine. "What should have been said instead is that 'We, the authorities, are going to provide the public with all the information required to ensure that there will be no more preventable deaths of babies in our care across Jamaica.'"

The agency also expressed condolences to the parents, family members and other loved ones for what they describe as a very sad event that has left many Jamaicans stunned and outraged.