Dear Editor: Women’s groups should lead push to improve neonatal wards

“[…] Women are the ones most directly involved. They bear most of the physical and psychological trauma of parent/motherhood during pregnancy—unlike the male who has the option to opt out at any time.

“[…] Does this tragedy not expose the lack of attention given to a most vulnerable group charged by nature to keep the species going? […]”

The following Letter to the Editor, which urges women’s groups to lead the push for improvement at the country’s neonatal wards, was submitted to Wired868 by Rae Samuel of Balmain:

A baby receives treatment in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

The tragedy that played out recently at the Port of Spain General Hospital (POSGH) neonatal wards is a stark reminder of yet another instance of institution failure.

In the midst of all the back and forth, the ritual braying by the cabinet, and the ongoing milking of the story by most of the dailies, it was pointed out that there is no statutory body with oversight for operations of these private facilities—as happens in education for example.

The matter is wending its way into obscurity except for those who are directly impacted: the medical staff and the parents. Already the matter has been pushed from the headlines by the imbroglio between the Auditor General and the Minister of Finance.

Minister of Finance Colm Imbert.
(Copyright Office of the Parliament 2022)

Any and all inquiries will go the way of the Paria tragedy and the shooting death of the migrant baby in the arms of its Venezuelan mother by the Coast guard.

Particularly to the deaths of the babies, I have noted and been asking many people where are the women’s movement in all of this?

Women are the ones most directly involved. They bear most of the physical and psychological trauma of parent/motherhood during pregnancy—unlike the male who has the option to opt out at any time.

Expecting…

Mao Ze Dong said that “women hold up half the sky”. In this case, it is more likely three quarters.

Where are the women’s groups who are so vocal on International Women’s Day, on the question of gender identity and gender bias? Does this tragedy not expose the lack of attention given to a most vulnerable group charged by nature to keep the species going?

In a conversation with one of the nurses’ representatives, I was told that any inquiry should focus also on the frequency of such occurrences.

A nurse struggles to cope with frustrating conditions.

Unless some organised entity takes up this issue, it will continue to happen even if on a smaller scale.

Years ago, some 13 inmates at St Ann’s psychiatric hospital died from food poisoning. No one was ever held accountable. After all they were “mad people”.

Our women and the nurses, who themselves might be parents, deserve protection and the best system of maternal care possible.

Who better to lead and organise around this matter than women’s groups?

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