Eighteen newborn babies dead

Eighteen newborn babies dead. Dozens more affected. This is the situation at two major hospitals here- the University of West Indies Hospital and one in a rural parish. As someone who has just given birth (in fact, we tried to register to deliver at UWIH but were too late), my heart aches for the parents. I am staring at my beautiful, tiny daughter with even more gratitude these days.

As usual, I have more questions than answers. Who is responsible? (Reports indicate that it is a bacterial infection, a result of unhygienic practices). Why did the health minister not know until four months later? Should he resign? (In fact, he is not taking responsibility, instead he is claiming that he could not act because he did not know. This is true, but isn’t the minister ultimately responsible for ministering his or her portfolio? If he admitted ignorance over such a major issue, isn’t that in fact an admission of negligence?) Why are foreign experts coming in now? Why are they coming at all? Do local officials not know how to maintain hygiene? Did the drought cause this due to a lack of water? How will the parents be treated?

I just keep thinking about it: imagine carrying your child for nine months to healthy term, then to have the most precious thing in your life perish as a result of careless behavior. How would you ever recover from that? Thoughts and prayers are with the parents.

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