CMC:-The Ministry of Health on Saturday confirmed that five newborn babies died during a short period at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) of the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital (MCMH).
The ministry, however, denied their death resulted from a germ spread from a baby rescued from a latrine in September, as a newspaper claimed on Friday.
The minister made reference to an incident on September 14 in which a newborn baby was rescued from a latrine pit in and was taken to the MCMH, where he died on September 18.
Four other babes also died in about a week after the rescued baby was admitted to the hospital -which has one of the lowest infant mortality rates in the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States.
The ministry said it would be a breach of confidentiality to publish patient-specific information, adding that the public should bear in mind that a newborn baby is only sent to the NICU in the first place if that child is born prematurely or has some other life-threatening medical condition.
“Despite the best efforts of medical professionals, some of these children are unfortunately lost for various reasons. A premature child may die as a result of: infections contracted in the womb, abnormal development of the baby’s organs and other reasons or complications,” the statement said.
The ministry said the MCMH has made significant strides in paediatric care in the past few years and will “continue to do everything possible to protect and safeguard the lives of our youngest citizens.”
The statement said the goal is to push the child mortality rates to as close to zero as possible by an adherence to best practices.
“The staff of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and the Paediatric Ward more generally follows the highest standards and most rigorous protocols on infection control. This staff receives extensive on-going training on techniques and measures that can help improve the survival chances of premature babies.”
The ministry said that every month, there is a detailed review on the babies that received neonatal intensive care.
It said that in early 2017, St. Vincent and the Grenadines will host its 21st annual Perinatal Mortality Conference “and thereby subject itself, as usual, to the assessment and advice of external perinatal experts.
“The dedication to saving babies is reflected in the country’s low infant mortality rates. However, the management and staff of the MCMH mourn the loss of even one life.”
The statement said the hospital “remains committed to providing the best possible quality of healthcare to all patients, including newborns”.