KINGSTON, Jamaica, Monday November 9, 2015 – The health portfolio has been taken from Dr. Fenton Ferguson amidst the bacterial infection outbreak scandal and Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller has instructed the new minister to correct the shortcomings in the health sector as soon as possible.
Horace Dalley is the new Minister of Heath, replacing Ferguson who has been under fire over the deaths of 19 premature babies from bacterial infections in two of the island’s major hospitals between June and September this year. Ferguson has been given responsibility for the Ministry of Labour and Social Security which Derrick Kellier previously held. Kellier will now only have agriculture and fisheries portfolio.
The changes take effect today.
“I have given instructions to the new Minister of Health . . . that every effort must be made as quickly as possible to correct the shortcomings in the health sector. He has served as Health Minister before and he knows the system very well. He has assured me that his first order of business will be to strengthen the system of health care delivery, to eliminate the deaths of babies or adults from causes such as bacterial outbreaks,” Simpson-Miller said in an address to the nation yesterday.
“I have also instructed Minister Dalley to review the reporting structure between the regions and the Ministry of Health. Every hospital in Jamaica has a management team, including a Senior Medical Officer and Administrators. Everyone must be held accountable.”
In announcing the changes, the Prime Minister said she had listened to the recent discussions and expressions of concern surrounding the matter, some of which could have the effect of distracting from the very important focus of economic and social reforms.
There have been calls for Ferguson had said he was not made aware of the situation, and later drew further ire for statements he made about preemies not being babies “in the real sense”.
The prime minister said that with his new portfolio, Ferguson will focus on government’s priority of labour market reforms, which are essential to Jamaica’s economic reform programme; while Kellier will continue to anchor the expansion of the agriculture sector.