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  • A special unit is to be established within the Ministry of Health to monitor the care for newborns at public and private facilities.
  • Portfolio Minister, Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson, made the announcement during a statement in the House of Representatives on Tuesday, October 27.
  • The move follows the death of 19 preterm babies at the University of the Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI) and Cornwall Regional Hospital (CRH), due to infections caused by the klebsiella and serratia bacteria.

A special unit is to be established within the Ministry of Health to monitor the care for newborns at public and private facilities.

Portfolio Minister, Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson, made the announcement during a statement in the House of Representatives on Tuesday, October 27.

The move follows the death of 19 preterm babies at the University of the Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI) and Cornwall Regional Hospital (CRH), due to infections caused by the klebsiella and serratia bacteria.

The unit’s establishment is consistent with the United Nations’ ‘Every Newborn Action Plan; A Call to Action 2014’, which is part of the Vision 2030 Agenda.

Dr. Ferguson advised that the six-member unit, to be headed by neonatologist, Dr. Michelle-Ann Richards, will include: Drs. Jacqueline Bisasor, Karen Shaw, and Simone Spence, with support from the Ministry’s Epidemiologist, Dr. Karen Webster, and Chief Nursing Officer, Marva Lawson-Byfield.

In expressing condolences to the parents of the babies, Dr. Ferguson described the incident as “unfortunate and regrettable.”

“We recognise that this is a traumatic experience that the parents and families have undergone as a result of the loss of their loved ones. The hospitals will continue to provide counselling and other psychological support to the affected families, who have accepted this offering during this difficult period,” he stated.

He also commended the hard-working staff of the hospitals, “who face these infections from time to time, and work tirelessly to contain them.”

In pointing out that klebsiella and serratia are among the leading causes of infection and mortality of premature babies globally, Dr. Ferguson gave the Ministry’s assurance that “we will continue to do all we can to provide the best care possible at our facilities.”

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development builds on the Millennium Development Goals and aims to complete the targets that were not met.