More Dead Babies – Bacterial Infection Claims Lives Of Seven Newborns At Victoria Jubilee Hospital

For the second time in less than a year, the public health sector has been hit with the sudden deaths of newborn babies.

This time it is the island’s leading maternity hospital, the Victoria Jubilee Hospital (VJH) in Kingston, where the official report is that seven babies have died in the past three months from sepsis, although Sunday Gleaner sources claim the number of deaths is much higher.

Sepsis is a potentially deadly condition that occurs when certain bacteria, fungi or parasites attack critical organs in the newborns.

The Government’s chief medical officer, Dr Winston De La Haye, late last week confirmed the deaths which forced the temporary closure of the labour ward at the hospital, where 8,000 to 10,000 babies are delivered annually.

“I spoke to individuals at Victoria Jubilee and they have had reports about a particular bacterial infection in seven babies last month. They have had in the last month seven, four dead within 24 hours of delivery, related to a specific feeder of a particular organism, which isn’t institution-related, but exists in the vaginal tracts of the mothers,” De La Haye told The Sunday Gleaner.

According to De La Haye, following the report, the hospital immediately went into proactive mode and shut down the labour ward for complete sterilisation.

“It is something that is seen internationally in about 20-30 per cent of pregnant women, and that is a relatively high percentage. However, we don’t have a figure for here, so we will differ from elsewhere in the world with that standard percentage.

“In the United States, they do screening of pregnant mothers for such things, by doing rectal and vaginal swabs just before birth,” said De La Haye, as he added that internationally, one to two per cent of babies have infections transmitted to them at birth.

Hospital Denied Deaths

Two weeks ago, officials at the hospital denied the deaths, and the labour ward locked down when The Sunday Gleaner first made enquiries.

Our news team was told that “nothing of the sort happened, or is happening there”, and the media was trying to “cause mischief”. But sources were insistent that there was a problem with the babies dying in the nursery, although the infection was traced to the labour ward.

“There was a bug, yes. And yes, the labour ward was closed, but to the best of my knowledge it was only for 24 hours. Babies were then delivered from the induction ward, which is around the corner from the labour ward,” one source emphasised.

In confirming the information from the sources, De La Haye said the number of deaths at the hospital was unusual.

“At Jubilee, you have about one death per month, approximately 10 per year. So the question is: is four deaths in a month unusual? Yes, it is. And it’s because of that why the whole ward was swabbed to ensure that it is not something from the facility, which it is not. So they have that information now,” he explained.

De La Haye said he could not disclose the particular organism that caused the infection, as he did not have that information.

Last year, the public health sector was left in a tailspin when an outbreak of klebsiella and serratia bacterial infection led to the deaths of several premature babies at two of the island’s major hospitals.

The outbreak at the University Hospital of the West Indies and the Cornwall Regional Hospital resulted in 18 of 42 infected newborn babies dying in a three-four-month period.

That incident caused the reassignment of then minister of health, Dr Fenton Ferguson, in what became known as ‘the dead babies scandal’.

This time around, Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton said he was not aware of the babies’ deaths when he was first contacted by The Sunday Gleaner, but promised to investigate the matter.

Tufton later asked health officials to make themselves available to speak to the issue, as he praised the staff at VJH “for the proactive action they took to arrest the situation immediately. That is something for which I give high commendations to the staff.”

Jamaica’s rate of infant mortality – deaths of children before they reach the age of one – has fallen steadily since the 1990s. In 2010, the mortality rate was 17 deaths per 1,000 live births. Last year, according to World Bank figures, the rate fell to 14 deaths per 1,000 live births. That compares with six per 1,000 live births in the United States, and four per 1,000 births in Britain.


18 thoughts on “7 BABY DEAD A JUBILEE

  1. Smh, so tufton most go then? Afterall we were told and convince fergi was the cause last time so it must be tufton fault now!
    Cock mouth kill cock, watch the hypocrite try justify this one. Weh u seh met? Cat got u tongue after all your hard campaigning

    1. No one blamed the dentist for the deaths. The accusations came from him not knowing only to hear that he was informed long before the media.

      Tufton just found out and NOW we see what the issue is…staff’s lying base on one saying the media is being mischevious, when the deaths are factual. If the dentist wasn’t reassignend that mischevious comment would have vindicated him not being aware of the deaths…but the cabinet shuffle make him look guilty.

      1. Tap chay fawt, up to this day people blame him, it’s all the blaming make him come forward wid the not in a real sense nonsense. Look back at any article with Fenton mention in it and see the response.
        So now it is staff lying? You mean the same staff that were given directives to hide statistics kmt move u rass from bo ya unu dam hypocrite

        1. Damn fool you read the article? Ferguson did a phuck you why him name Fenton to you? Reading is fundamental.

        2. Very much so. The calls for him to go started waaay before he misspoke in parliament. Tufton must go, everybody to be held at the same standards

          1. How easily one forget ChikV.
            Mad man standards? Because thisis the same minister who wanted to catch ChikV to know his national plan to counter the epidemic


            If you forget then Clovis memorialized it in cartoon for those who need visual aide


  2. Hopefully the PNP be the bigger party n nuh try politicize this like the retarded labourites who latch on to anything fi look a hype.

    1. It turn political fodder when Ferguson got another cabinet before all of the original 17 babies were buried! Then you come with the loborite f**ry. Damn fool you be! Dead babies and the grieving parents don’t give a fuk about your bulla politics.

  3. If the doctors are to believed that the infection stems from the mothers’ vaginas then they are not to be blamed. Infections are a fact of life. There is no national mandate on testing pregnant women for every infection possible in Jamaica, so it is up to expectant mothers to take care of themselves and their babies’ health. The government can only do more to make people more aware of the risks to new-Borns from otherwise innocuous infections.

  4. @anonymous

    Dr. Fenton came on national television and told grieving mothers that their newborn are “not babies in the real senseā€. They were not proactive in dealing with the first death, and the second death should have been viewed as a crisis in the hospital, however it was not until the death toll reached 19 that the public was made aware. If a minister can make such an outrageous and insensitive comment to its people, he’s not fit to represent anyone. He should be fired!!

      1. Move u rass u dam hypocrite, labourite apologist. Look how long after unu scrutinized the man him come out and say dat, unu no member seh a di amount a lashing before him add the icing to it. Unu use it as a political ball field, Condrew seh him get all dream from the dead babies now over 20 baby died and unu a cover up and a justify

        Dam low life dirty hypochypocrite

  5. Why do I feel that it is a lack of sanitation that is at the core of this. Are the doctors and nurses cleansing their hands properly? Is the hospital equipment, bedding, bathrooms and public spaces being cleaned with the proper chemicals. What a ting fi poor ppl. Suh dem want wi fi concern bout cyar tire a buss up pon highway when babies a dead a hospital and di hospital dem obviously unclean and unsanitary. Fxuk unno highway when money was supposed to use fi improve di health sector, education and job creation. Unno and unno blasted road when hospitals filthy and a kill off innocent ppl.

  6. Help me understand, the babies born with bacteria that causes their deaths or dem born, catch the bacteria then die? My condolences to the ones that grieve.

    1. For one, herpes, e.coli and a few other bacteria can cause the infection/blood poisoning during the pregnancy, during delivery or it shows up after.

      If the hospital isn’t the conduit then it’s all about the mothers gynological health, hygiene and I would say sexual habits…sex partner included.

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