Wed | Dec 1, 2021

LETTER OF THE DAY: Communication and health-related matters

Published:Wednesday | October 21, 2015 | 11:01 AM


Tuesday night's television news revealed that there was an alarming number of deaths among hospitalised children due to klebsiella and serratia. Klebsiella is a bacteria that can cause a variety of health-care problems - some of them deadly

Serratia is a sort of first cousin to klebsiella that produces similar results. The treatment for these is presenting the health-care community with real challenges, and I would not blame our health minister for not coming up with a cure, especially since he is now preoccupied with ensuring that he becomes a 'Six Star General' in his constituency.

I am, however, very concerned that, once again, news of this tragedy - 18 infant deaths recently - has come to our attention through the back door. I remember when news of the hand, foot and mouth disease broke, the media was, at first, unable to reach any of the ministry spokespersons to say exactly what was happening. When they appeared, we were given the impression that it was not a serious illness and the children would be well again in a few days. Tell that to an infant with painful sores in his mouth and extremities, among other problems. Actually, I remember that in 2012, about 230 Chinese children, 52 Cambodian children and more than 30 Maliasans were among the deaths in Asian countries from hand foot and mouth disease.

increased sanitary measures

When the ministry officials were confronted for answers, one got the impression that Permanent Secretary Dr Kevin Harvey's primary concern was to protect the minister. He states that for the past 20 years it has never been the practice of the ministry to broadcast bacterial outbreaks in hospitals. So when there is a death as a result, what is the reason given to relatives, Dr? National epidemiologist, Dr Karen Webster, claimed that a number of measures have been put in place to mitigate the problems, including "increased sanitary measures to ensure neonatal areas are kept clean". But microbiologist Dr Anthony Jones said, "the presence of bacteria suggests the hospitals affected are not clean".

Some of the factors that cause these problems include poor hygiene, limited access to clean water, unsatisfactory infection-control arrangements in health-care facilities, prolonged use of invasive medical devices and contaminated surgical tools.

I refuse to believe that our health-care professionals have suddenly become filthy, unconcerned individuals. Reports on the street and on back patios uptown suggest that we are lucky not to have several very serious epidemics on our hands. Why is this?

The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank are regarded by the developing world as pariahs. Many, many reports from independent sources over decades have placed poor health and educational attainment, as well as underdevelopment, squarely at the feet of these global gangsters. Our government has decided to change that by becoming their first success story. If this is to be accomplished, it has to be at the expense of the Jamaican people, which is not so difficult, as, since 1938, we have demonstrated a willingness to accept anything. So all the critical social structures are crumbling around us while the IMF bosses are cheering our government and telling them to 'keep it up'.

We don't know how deep we are in it, as everywhere, there is a Dr Harvey hiding information from us.

Is there any way in which we can get the truth about our condition before all hell breaks loose?

Glenn Tucker

Stony Hill