In a stunning twist to the recent tragic deaths of newborns at the Victoria Jubilee Hospital (VJH), The Sunday Gleaner has received a copy of a report requested of and submitted by VJH officials, which showed that 26 babies had in fact died at the institution between August and September of this year.

Far more than the seven deaths that were initially reported when The Sunday Gleaner broke the story on October 9, and the four deaths that were acknowledged by the Ministry of Health at a press conference days later. This represents an approximate 550 per cent increase from what the ministry is reporting.

The babies reportedly died after contracting an infection from their mothers during vaginal delivery at the hospital.

After the story broke, Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton called for an investigation into the incident and convened a committee, which was charged to review the cluster of cases of Group B Streptococcus (GBS) infections at the VJH – said to be the cause of the deaths – and report on the findings.

The committee comprised Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health (MOH) Elaine Foster Allen; Phillip Armstrong, chairman of the South East Regional Health Authority (SERHA); Maureen Golding, regional director, SERHA; Chief Medical Officer in the MOH Dr Winston De La Haye; and Dr Orville Morgan, consultant obstetrician/gynaecologist and senior medical officer at VJH.

The Sunday Gleaner was told that the VJH was requested to prepare a report on the incident, which was, in fact, made available to the committee before they prepared the official report that was released at the press conference on October 13.

However, contrary to the VJH report, which outlined an increase in the number of babies diagnosed with GBS and a significant increase in those dying from it – identifying 26 deaths in two months alone – the official report released by the committee only spoke of eight babies being infected, four of whom it said died.

16 deaths in September

In the VJH report, a copy of which was obtained by The Sunday Gleaner, it said, inter alia, that “ten of the babies died in August”, with 60 per cent occurring in infants described as having “very low birth rate”, and of the “16 deaths in September up to the time the report was submitted, 60 per cent were infants weighing an average 2.5kg (5.51lb) – suspected sepsis cases”.

It also said GBS – a bacterial infection found in the pregnant woman’s vagina or rectum – was the culprit which led to sepsis, septic shock and death.

At the press conference held at the health ministry’s New Kingston office, journalists were also told that GBS could not be transferred from individual to individual, and the mothers were identified as the primary transporters of the microbe to their newborns.

In the VJH report, it acknowledged that it did not know the GBS status of the mothers, especially those who “went into premature labour” and those with any recent history of “vaginal discharge or urinary tract infection at least four weeks before delivery …”. However, it did say that “the mothers were the primary source, with the delivery ward being a distant second option”.

The VJH report also said the microbe can survive outside the body for up to seven days. Despite this notation, however, it said the hospital environment was ruled out as the possible “culprit”.

Additionally, contrary to the denial by VJH officials that the labour ward was shut down for a terminal sweep, the report said the hospital acted on the recommendation and carried out such.

The VJH report detailed several issues and made a number of recommendations. The committee did, in fact, accede to some of those recommendations. Among them was the swabbing of pregnant women for delivery at the hospital.

The Sunday Gleaner was told that the VJH report came on the heels of a noxious report that was done by the Kingston and St Andrew Health Department, which raised concerns about the number and frequency of deaths occurring at the premier child-delivery facility in the Caribbean region.

In early October, hospital officials initially denied the deaths when a Gleaner reporter first raised the issue during an interview at the Kingston Public Hospital (KPH). However, insistence on the part of Sunday Gleaner sources and other hospital officials forced a second look into the matter, at which time there was confirmation.

On Wednesday, Tufton is scheduled to answer questions on the issue in Parliament that were tabled by Opposition Spokesman on Health Horace Dalley.

Independent review

In the meantime, shortly after the babies’ deaths were made public, at least one organisation had called for independent health experts to review the situation.

In a statement, the Women’s Health Network (WHN) expressed disappointment that the committee established by the health ministry was bereft of individuals with the required technical skills for the findings to be deemed credible.

“Although we welcome the decision to investigate, we are taken aback that the honourable minister has convened a committee without the technical skill set to investigate a hospital infection outbreak, as doing so will not inspire public confidence in its findings or recommendation,” said WHN in the statement.

“While we recognise that the members of the committee are eminently qualified in their various fields of technical vocation, to use them in this manner, in our view, amounts to misappropriation of expertise.”

In a statement to The Sunday Gleaner yesterday, SERHA’s chairman Armstrong said, “At the October 13th press conference, we reported specifically on the babies that had died from Group B Streptococcus (GBS). In 2016, eight babies were born with GBS, all of which were treated with antibiotics. Unfortunately, four of those babies died in September.”

He also noted that “40 babies have died at VJH for the period July-September, inclusive of the aforementioned four from Strep B. The majority of the other babies were premature and weighed less than 2kg at birth. They were born with low Apgar scores, and the cause of death was deemed to be mostly from respiratory and cardiac related issues. All deaths are viewed with equal importance, and our teams do everything they can to prevent them.”



  1. Lying in tek people fi idiot, them unsanitary conditions cause these infections. Blaming it on the grieving mothers about vaginal and anal infections cause the babies death. Since when baby deliver analy. Look dem get mi daggaz now. Me go Jamaica go bury me husband and 2 days after the funeral I end up a University Hospital with gall stone attack. I kindly check out myself after me in deh 2 day. And watch them nearly kill the woman in the bed next to me, clearly her chart said no sulphur or penicillin she allergic. Them give the lady penicillin. Har tongue swell and start choke her, her eyelid start to peel. Thank god one of her daughter come late that night or her mother would have died. And when them ask the batty man Dr, him laugh and seh oh that’s nothing. I was shocked , when me tell dr sweet Walker if him know seh if this happen in America it would be a major law suit, him cut him eye and Mek me know seh this is not America, before him tun him back and wheel him batty and whine dung the corridor. Me kindly sign the release form and come out a deh suh. The health care system in Jamaica if you no careful will kill you.

  2. Mek mi tell unnuh weh gwaan for the ones with infection, some a sex careless, some did hav it before and for others it really come from dem ass…Di bag a anal sex dem a hav and den di man dem push dem hood inna dem front, or the batty man ting weh dem man a gwaan wid den a come sex dem a gi dem di infection….

    Nuff a dem kno seh suptn wrong but if dem run from clinic/doctor when a time fi di blood test fi do dem and either don’t go back a clinic or change clinic pon a regular and then just turn up a hospital…at that point in time doctor can’t do ntn but deliver di baby….and while you coulda cure di mother so di baby born healthy…Di infection stay deh and manifest and get inna di baby bloodstream and it hard to cure something you were born with!

    1. Stop chat non sense yah man….kmt….why would they hide from doing the blood test, they only test for syphillis, hiv and your blood count, not strep b. Proper precautions are not taking place when delivering these babies, neglect is the main cause of this…no damn anus or vagina.

      1. My mother is a clinic nurse and I volunteer to help and my boyfriend is a doctor which I why I can talk. So please don’t come rush me because of what you think you know! And a lot of ppl a walk wid infection and kno and don’t do ntn bout it. So please don’t talk like you don’t have sense!

        And for a lot who talking about sanitary conditions please remember that one bottle of soap can’t clean di hospital and a lot of hospitals are under supplied. #Fact

        A lot of you should try working under certain conditions and see how well your mentality will be able to handle it…some nurses are rude yes, but you do have good ones….which is in ever profession there is! Stop generalize and put down good hard working ppl!

  3. Dirty hospital and I believe the very staff are the conduit for transmission of the infection. I bet you if dem 26 ladies did stay home and give birth their children would be alive today.

  4. Group B streptococcus (GBS) is a type of bacterial infection that can be found in a pregnant woman’s vagina or rectum. This bacteria is normally found in the vagina and/or rectum of about 25% of all healthy, adult women. Women who test positive for GBS are said to be colonized. A mother can pass GBS to her baby during delivery.

    GBS affects about 1 in every 2,000 babies in the United States. Not every baby who is born to a mother who tests positive for GBS will become ill. Although GBS is rare in pregnant women, the outcome can be severe. As such, physicians include testing as a routine part of prenatal care.

    Dem naa test 4 it before fi prevent the spread when delivery time cum.

  5. Dis nuh di same blasted hospital weh a put two ooman pon one bed? Can smaddy carry ten big jug a Chlorox guh drop off a dis place meck dem cleanse dem place well. So goodly one mother all pick up infection from her bedmate. Jubilee unno need fi di betta. Ministry of Health unno need fi be doing regular anonymous inspection at deze hospitals.

    1. Jubilee have the highest mortality rate on the island and now it a beat out the caribbean. The hospital need good staff and more doctors..One doctor cannot deliver two baby same time

  6. No one at VJH puts 2 women on 1 bed. These patients come and socialize with each other. They meet each other at the clinics and when them buck up pan d ward dem a Besties. They walk and sit on each other beds, eat and drink from each other, borrow basic necessities. So don’t come blaming no staff at VJH for transmitting no infection! They don’t even condone relatives/visitors sitting on the beds much less patients.

    Ppl look for everybody to blame but them self! You guys should encourage these ladies to take care of themselves. If only you knew what the staff have to go through on a daily basis.

    1. You are lying. The fact that some women even have to deliver on benches shows that the place is not in order. The staff there is very disgusting and act unprofessional on a daily basis. You should not worry about them taking care of themselves, they are in a hospital and while they are there they should be cared for.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top