Thursday 17 October, 2019

Deyalsingh: Premature baby deaths can't be stopped

New Year's baby: Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh looks on as a mother

New Year's baby: Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh looks on as a mother

While there has been a reduction in premature infant deaths over the past three years, there is nothing that can be done to eliminate this occurrence. 

That's according to Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh who made the comment while speaking with reporters following a visit to the San Fernando General Hospital on New Year's Day to welcome the first babies born for 2019. 

He was responding to media reports that at least 16 ba­bies died in the Neona­tal In­ten­sive Care Unit (NICU) dur­ing over a two month period at the San Fer­nan­do Gen­er­al Hos­pi­tal (SFGH). 

Acknowledging that there was a spate of infant deaths between October and November, Deyalsingh said these were due largely to unexplained premature births. He noted that in these cases, babies were being born as low as one kilogramme, with birth defects. 

"You have a premature baby born 7 weeks early with a brain defect. In which part of the world does that infant survive? You had another one born 750 grammes with chlamydia, you had another one born at one kilogramme with HIV. You had another one, 1.1 kilogrammes born with antibiotic resistant bacterial infection. Tell me in which part of the world that cluster of babies is going to survive?" 

"You can't stop these things," he added.

In response to the concerns of parents that a possible infection caused by pigeon droppings played a part in their babies' deaths, Deyalsingh said while the deaths were worrying, there was no evidence to support this claim. 

"Parents will say (that)... They are looking for excuses. They are traumatised. But no matter what I say, you all don’t believe me af­ter I gave you the facts."

The Minister noted, however, that there was a reduction in both infant deaths and premature births for the month of December.

Deyalsingh said there has been a decline in neonatal mortality in three years from 15 per 1000 live births to 8.8. He added that the Ministry has made a "phenomenal achievement" beating its sustainable development goal on nine deaths per 1000 live births by 2030, in 2018.

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