Fix it quick! - PM orders shortcomings in health sector corrected, puts spotlight on administrators, senior medical officers
Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller has charged newly appointed Health Minister Horace Dalley with the task of fixing what is widely considered a ramshackle health-care system and has demanded that more individuals be held accountable for the scandal surrounding the deaths of 19 premature babies.
In an address to the nation last night, Simpson Miller argued that the Government has done a great deal to decrease maternal and prenatal fatalities but conceded that the internal audit of the health sector points to many deficiencies, which will need to be addressed.
"We have made major investments in improving the health-care delivery system but gaps remain. The internal audit of the sector, which was commissioned by the Honourable Dr Fenton Ferguson, and which the Government has now released in full to the public, gives an indication of just how much work we still have to do in this critical area of national life," she said.
The audit report of the health sector revealed a lack of adherence to standards and a severe shortage of resources. The release of the audit preceded the removal of Ferguson as the minister of health.
"I have given instructions to the new minister of health, the Honourable Horace Dalley, that every effort must be made as quickly as possible to correct the shortcomings in the health sector. He has served as health minister before and he knows the system very well," Simpson Miller said.
As Dalley returns to the helm of the health ministry, he has set his sights on eliminating maternal and prenatal fatalities, but the prime minister also wants him to shake up the management structure of the health sector.
In the wake of the bacterial outbreak, which led to the deaths of 19 premature babies at two hospitals, members of the management team of one of the facilities, the University Hospital of the West Indies, handed in their resignations.
However, calls for more resignations within the health ministry and the regional authorities have continued.
"I have also instructed Minister Dalley to review the reporting structure between the regions and the Ministry of Health. Every hospital in Jamaica has a management team, including a senior medical officer and administrators. Everyone must be held accountable," the prime minister said.
Simpson Miller sought to comfort the parents who lost babies because of the bacterial outbreak.
"The Government feels the anguish of the mothers and fathers who have lost their babies. We are truly sorry for your pain and the loss of these precious lives. Our children should never suffer, and it is our responsibility to make sure we protect them and give them the best life possible," she said.