PM on dead babies at neonatal unit: Let’s get the facts first

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Avinash Chattergoon and Daynelle Samaroo cuddle their baby Aarya before her death on April 5 at the Port of Spain General Hospital. –

THE Prime Minister asked the nation for patience as investigators from the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) gather a three-man team to investigate the growing number of infantile deaths at the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at the Port of Spain General Hospital (PoSGH).

“I want to know what are the facts and circumstances. And if there are people to be held accountable, then they are to be held accountable after the facts are determined. There is no short-cutting that,” Dr Rowley said, during a post-Cabinet meeting held at the Diplomatic Centre in Port of Spain on Thursday.

“We can’t overreact to the grief that the families are going through. There are some that are exciting the concern about compensation. We are not there yet. We want to know what the facts are and the facts will determine where we go from there. I simply ask for a little bit of patience and let us not confuse the issue.”

He said PAHO wanted to know about the specific issue being faced at PoSGH, and based on that, they would provide a team. Rowley said he expected the investigation would be launched by the end of the month.

He also sought to assure the public that TT’s hospitals were safe, and asked the nation to maintain its confidence in the public-health system.

Rowley said, “We have had an issue in one ward, unfortunately the outcome has been quite disastrous, but our hospital system is not the collapsed zone that some people make it out to be.”

He defended Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh amid calls for his resignation over the deaths, saying, as Prime Minister, he was the one most responsible.

“There is no minister more responsible than the Prime Minister, and they call for my resignation all the time,” he said. “Deyalsingh reports to me.”

Asked for a reaction to the death of Amarah Lallitte, the four-year-old girl who was murdered by a male relative on April 8, Rowley said while he was not in the country at the time, he was shocked to hear about the details of the murder.

“I was in Ireland when I heard about it and it shook me up right there.

“I only know about one other incident such as that. I got to hear about it when I was a child. Just hearing about it was painful and I could imagine the horror of having to experience that.

Even though I wasn’t in TT it was a bad day for me.”