LUCEA, Hanover — A pregnant woman, who says she is afraid the Hanover health system will fail her baby, was one of about 20 placard-bearing protestors from the Opposition People’s National Party (PNP) who yesterday continued calls for Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton to resign.
“I have a baby soon born. My baby is a critical baby which they are planning to give a C-section birth. So I am scared… my baby runs into difficulty and him dead same way,” said the woman who identified herself as Diana.
The peaceful protest in which she participated was staged in front of the Noel Holmes Hospital and Hanover Health Department. Organised by the PNP’s region six, a similar protest was staged in Westmoreland and a candlelight vigil was planned for St James later in the evening. It was the PNP’s latest salvo in what is being referred to in some circles as the dead baby saga after Klebsiella pneumonia claimed the lives of 11 babies at the Victoria Jubilee Hospital. Tufton has been flayed for failing to advise the nation until after the story became public.
“This is not a challenge on Minister Tufton, you know. This is about doing the right thing for the people of Jamaica. This is for the kids of Jamaica. We can’t afford to be losing children like this,” stated Hanover Western Constituency Chairman Brian Chambers.
He said the PNP will continue to put pressure on Tufton.
“The decision is not on us in Hanover only. This is a decision that will have to be taken nationally. The people of Jamaica will make a decision on what they need to do. When the time comes, the people of Jamaica will do what they need to do,” stated Chambers, alluding to the next general election, which is constitutionally due in approximately three years.
Councillor caretaker for the Lucea Division Neville “Bibby” Humphrey noted that their calls may fall on deaf ears.
“I am calling on Dr Tufton to do the right thing. Do not wait on Andrew because Andrew does not know the right thing,” said Humphrey, who argued that Prime Minister Andrew Holness had failed to get rid of National Security Minister Dr Horace Chang despite his dismal ratings in more than one public opinion poll.
Over in Westmoreland, scores of PNP supporters gathered outside the Savanna-la-Mar Public General Hospital Wednesday morning. Among them was PNP councillor caretaker for the Savanna-la-Mar Division and mother of three, Julian Chang.
“I stand here in sympathy of the mothers of the… dead babies,” she told the Jamaica Observer.
“Dr Tufton needs to resign and he needs to answer to the Jamaican people. Time come!” she argued.
On Tuesday Tufton told the House of Representatives that, while he accepts the view that the health authorities could have gone public with the information, if the problem was being solved and the risk was cauterised, creating unnecessary hysteria could potentially discourage people from going to the Victoria Jubilee Hospital, which is the sole option for some.
He also cautioned against undue hysteria against the background of overall deaths among newborns as these occur for various reasons. He stressed that it should be noted that there are mortality rates associated with births, pointing to 178 deaths in 2017 and an average of 150-180 deaths annually.