PAHO team arrives, probe into babies’ deaths begins

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Minister of Health Terrence Deyasingh speaks at the Health Ministry’s press conference at the Eric Williams Medical Sciences on April 22 to address concerns about the recent deaths of 11 infants. – Photo by Venessa Mohammed

The North West Regional Health Authority’s (NWRHA) CEO Anthony Blake announced on Monday that a team from the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) commissioned to do an independent investigation into the deaths of seven babies at the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at the Port of Spain General Hospital (PoSGH) had arrived.

At a press conference on what Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh termed “some unfortunate reporting” in the public domain, Deyalsingh, Blake and head of the NICU Dr Marlon Timothy delivered statements and then fielded questions from the media.

The conference was held at the Ministry of Health, Queen’s Park East, Port of Spain.

Blake said the NWRHA’s management team had already met with the PAHO investigators.

He said the three-member team came into TT on Sunday and moved swiftly to meet with the management team for a couple of hours on Monday morning, “to look at, firstly, the terms of reference for that investigation and to request from the NWRHA relevant documents and to schedule interviews and so on.

“And I want to say we are committed to providing PAHO with all of the information they need and access to all of the relevant persons in terms of interviews moving forward.”

Blake also confirmed that the authority had received pre-action protocol letters from the lawyers of some of the parents in relation to the deaths of 11 babies, seven of whom belonged to the cluster occurring between April 4 and 9 involving a bacterial infection.

CEO of the NWRHA Anthony Blake – Photo by Venessa Mohammed

He said the babies who had died earlier were not connected to the April cluster.

The pending litigation and privacy issues constrained the authority from speaking directly and specifically about the individual cases, he added.

The conference delved into statements made by the Opposition, TT’s rising cases of premature births and the mood of the staff in the NICU.