MINISTER of Health and Wellness Dr Christopher Tufton says that of the 16 babies infected as a result of a bacterial outbreak at Victoria Jubilee Hospital in Kingston since July, 12 babies have died, and not dozens as has been erroneously reported in the media.
The outbreak, which was discovered in July, saw seven babies dying at the end of that month. Two died in August, another two in September, and one in October.
Dr Tufton told the Jamaica Observer on Wednesday that he received a report in late August that there had been a bacterial outbreak in the neonatal intensive care unit at Victoria Jubilee Hospital, and that the region had gone in with the hospital’s senior clinicians to assess and to respond.
He noted that after the first set of babies passed away in July, efforts had continued to try to control the situation. Unfortunately, the deaths continued through to October.
The health minister said he instructed that Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) experts be called in to do an assessment, which was done, and he is now awaiting the report from the PAHO team.
Tufton lamented that one of the real challenges facing the hospital is the ratio of staff to babies.
“The ratio, ideally, in that environment should be one to two; it is hovering around one to seven, one to eight because of the shortage of the specialist nurses for treating with that situation within that environment,” he explained.
“This is one of the reasons why I’ve gone to Cuba and other places to try and deal with a shortage because we are getting a lot of migration and resignations and it is affecting the capacity to manage infection prevention and control measures. It’s a very unfortunate situation, but it is one that we’re trying to cope with. And I think the team up to this point has been doing a fairly good job with the help of PAHO, and I can say more when I get the PAHO report which [I] was waiting on before speaking more publicly on the situation,” he said.