Minister of Health Pablo Marin cannot be held accountable for last month’s neonatal deaths at the Karl Heusner Memorial, Prime Minister Dean Barrow said Thursday.
Barrow said he completely disagrees with the sentiment that Marin should resign or be dismissedfrom his post as Minister of Health.
He added that he also doesn’t see why Marin should have to take any degree of responsibility for the deaths, when the KHMH functions as a statutory body that is managed by a Board of Directors.
Barrow’s remarks came in response to recent allegations that the hospital, the Minister and the government are attempting to cover up what some have labelled as “gross negligence” at the hospital that has led to the death of more than a dozen premature babies in the KHMH’s Newborn Intensive Care Unit.
Barrow’s comments also came virtually at the same time the pressure group, Citizens Organized for Liberty through Action and other members of the community staged a protest outside the hospital.
COLA and its supporters have also called for an independent inquiry into the incident.
Barrow, however, said the investigation being carried out by the Pan American Health Organization should suffice as an independent process and revealed that the PAHO expert already gave his preliminary indication of how he saw things at the facility.
When the PAHO expert, Dr. Ricardo Bustamante, is finished with his investigation, PAHO will deliver a formal report on the series of incidents in May, Barrow explained.
Opposition Leader Francis Fonseca, however, doesn’t share Barrow’s views and says that the Minister should be held responsible for not only the KHMH incidents but also for the other deaths of newborns that have been reported at other hospitals throughout the country.
Fonseca says the PUP is very disappointed with the response to the KHMH issue.
He said that after two press conferences that the hospital has held, the fundamental questions still remain unanswered.
Fonseca said the Belizean people still need to hear a clear answer as to how the bacteria, which the KHMHA says was responsible for about seven of the 13 deaths, was introduced into the NICU.
“We also need to know if anyone is responsible, and what is being done to ensure that it never recurs”, Fonseca said.
Within the first 20 days in the month of May, a dozen premature newborns died at the NICU.
Several of the grieving parents have since reported to the media that leading up to thesudden deaths the medical professionals consistently told them that their babies’ health were improving.
The parents maintain that their babies died on account of some form of mismanagement.
They point to the way the situation was handled, when the outbreak occurred.
They say that inaction or some form of communication breakdown between doctors and administration had a pivotal role to play in the large number of deaths in such a short span of time.