See previous parts for more: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 & 7 & 8 & 9 & 10
Sometimes things have a way of coming back to bite administrations especially when they are or were in opposition; remember when Mrs Simpson Miller described the then JLP as an uncaring government? Well it now seems the same adage can apply to the PNP. This ugly business of the Health Ministr(y) (er’s) present scandals in the long line of many for the PNP, Trafigura, Shell Waiver and such.
The late in the day apology that lasted some 27 seconds was forced under duress reportedly by the party leader and Prime Minister who seconded a senior government official to visit Dr Ferguson and he coughed it up in response. I had prepared this post and held it in draft yesterday until I saw what was to unfold, I see no reason to change my position any as the last twenty fours the tense press briefing with Dr Marion Bullock Ducasse, Sandrea Falconer et al and the half hearted fake apology from Dr Fenton Ferguson. He claimed he “would never disregard the life of any human being” and explained that he “simply wanted to convey that premature babies are more susceptible to infections”.
Frankly Dr Fenton Ferguson MUST be fired, simply put. Where oh where is the so called audit done at the regional health authorities in May 2015 that the goodly minister has placed under lock and key, when it is tax payers money and some grant funding that paid for it. He only gave us a summary in that uncomfortable September 2 press conference. That report should not be the purview or ownership of the Minister and his team including the now arrogant Permanent Secretary Dr Kevin Harvey in whom I am so disappointed as to his performance in this matter. Publish or perish I suppose. He (Ferguson) no longer enjoys the confidence of the public in large measure yet Mrs Miller keeps him there. He continues to serve at Mrs Miller’s pleasure.
Dr Kevin Harvey permanent secretary used the fear of hospital stigmatization if the report is released to give justification and claimed he was to consult a body of stakeholders for same, to which no answer has come or release of the damning report. Audley Shaw finance spokesperson for the opposition asked the question of the age in this matter to which Ferguson could not respond sensibly. Audley Shaw in parliament October 27 asked:
“I want to ask you directly today was the issue of infectious disease and mortality among premature babies were specifically addressed in the health audit?”
To which Dr Ferguson replied:
“What I would say to you member, I am very clear that in that audit there was mention relative to infection prevention and control, among other things; equipment, pharmaceuticals and other things that I have mentioned in the public space; when I spoke on the audit I said that in my presentation ....... so yes, it spoke to infection control.”
Mr Shaw responded:
“You have not answered my question minister; I’ll ask you again, did the report, the audit make specific reference to babies, premature babies dying, dying as a result of infectious environment, I want to know if the report specifically referred to these deaths?”
“That I would have to check, I would never depend upon my brain about a specific question as you have asked; what I will tell you is that I know there was a discussion on, raised about prevention and control of infections; if you so desire that I will not be able to give you that response this afternoon; if you table them I will respond.”
Shaw fires back:
"So you’re privy to an audit which you have refused to make public although it is owned by the public; it is our report and by right that report should be made public; and you made a reference at the press conference about certain conditions that were not appropriate or that could lead to infectious diseases, I recall that; but I want to know, I would like for you minister to tell us specifically did the report speak to the lack of water, soaps, gloves, tissue, hand cleaners, masks, protective clothing and the repeat use of disposables and the fact that surgeons have to be wearing garbage bags; did the report make reference to these issues?”
“Member from North East Manchester you have had the benefit of having had the report or being told; as the minister I have the responsibility that if I am going to answer questions as you have posed I would much prefer if you were to table them..”
So we are to accept that dodging attempt by the goodly minister because Mr Shaw has had the benefit of seeing the report so he must not ask questions, the lunacy of this minister. He seems to forget he HAS the report and is wifing it up. And he did not take it to parliament via some device as is customary these days as MPs can be seen even during debates business tapping away or even talking on smartphones. And then the it wasn’t me stance on October 16, didn’t the minister even read the report in the first place so that answers can roll off his tongue when pressed on such an important matter as it consumes him. If the matter of the infections is in the report then he have lied to us bearing in mind he has the report from August; and is this the reason why the report has not been made public?
What is so damning in this report that it cannot be made public?
I am angered by this as the leader of the PNP whose political career is mostly founded on being in touch with the people as it were and Mama P hence the name for her has thrived despite the shark infested political waters. See from the Observer: Where is the real Portia Lucretia Simpson Miller? and We need a transformational leader, but is it Holness? But can I vote for a JLP who also is showing up their poor management of issues and performance in the upper house in the present CCJ impasse?
“Mr Speaker, I am sure that all of us in this honourable house on both sides would have a feeling of sadness for what happened with the children; I hope that a system would be put in place that this will never happen again; I want to extend sympathies to members of the family, I hope that the Ministry of Health and the minister will look at the present system to see what needs to be done that what happened will never ever happen again; our children are our future and we have a responsibility to ensure the protection of our children, the future leaders.”
I am not a big fan of Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange but she stood up and reminded the house that it is no laughing matter and that lives were lost, for that I give her some credit but she needs to do more work in her constituency. Ms Grange’s intervention came after a distasteful joke about the cousin of the PM who sits on the JLP side Everald Warmington, reference to Dr Ferguson being her ‘son’ and Pernel Charles’ response where he said thank God he was not born premature. Seems the uncaring nature runs in all sides. The PM does not seems to understand her mandate or power to hire and fire not to hope but to direct, issue instructions and get things done; but as I have said before she was never PM material from the onset, nice personality yes but she does not have the skills for that level of management. As PM she should not be telling us “I hope” there is no room for aspirational crap here, this could never happen to previous Prime Ministers especially P. J. Patterson or Bruce Golding or older ones as Edward Seaga. Mrs Miller bailed out Dr Ferguson during the Chik-V debacle and now here is again with a bougie and she still protects or preserves him. As for the resignations at University of the West Indies hospital UWHI denied by the board chair is dubious to say the least.
Dr Ferguson must also remember his stance when in opposition as played on Nationwide yesterday and the day before when foot and mouth challenges befell the JLP government. Now he finds himself in the driver’s seat with the same stance from the present opposition. Then comes the dismissal by Dr Ferguson in parliament under pressure from the opposition by suggesting the babies were not real babies and would not matter anyway, he described them as neonates in other words they are not babies in the real sense. According to the US National Library of Medicine they defined neonates as a baby who is four weeks old or younger, it continued that a neonate is also called a newborn; Dr Ferguson shows his callousness and uncaring nature and that of his team. How insulting to the mothers and family who lost a baby as if to suggest their child’s life is worth nothing. This is not the stoneage periods where there were no technologies that can help premature babies overcome the early stages of growth.
Dr Ferguson despite his calls repeatedly on buggery law reform for purposes of HIV prevention and interventions but he is not irreplaceable. Sensible Health Ministers be they pro or against homosexuality does not have room for opposing such moves. So Ferguson can go as far as I am concerned.
CCJ debate matters
Is Mrs Forte being targeted for her stridency as opposition spokesperson on Health and targeting the Health Minister in her new role? Given she was the Foreign Affairs Minister under the JLP and a previous resident magistrate judge.
Announcements and more announcements
Charisma announced investments for hotel rooms (over 10 years though); Another one linked to the logistics hub and the LMG project but will these announcements materialize and business confidence on paper looks optimistic but we have heard that before. If there is a change of government will the JLP continue the workable tenets or will we have a start from scratch and ditch workable plans as discarded knowledge? The string of announcements according to some sceptics seems as part of the election ploy and then the real jobs do not materialize. Remember the (Kronk &) Anchor Finance aka Crown n Anchor (a takeoff of the gambling street side game) MOU and it turned out to be a farce; yet that died right before our eyes and numerous other project announcements. Good news for Spanish Town as far as the freezone but I recall the rice factory now turned bus terminus and the present crime situation and will jobs automatically convert get rich quick lazy twenty somethings to working class citizens? I am not convinced as we have been burnt before and announcements made then nothing in effect. I am not too celebratory.
We are in a crisis of leadership but who among the bad eggs are we to choose from?
Until next time.
Peace & tolerance