Mar 11, 2014 News
“Dah shock me, because I knew is oxygen my son had to get, so instead of carrying he to Georgetown, I rush he to the nearest place”- Mother
The parents of the child, who recently died at the Leonora Cottage Hospital, are peeved at the fact that the public health facility had no supply of something as vital as oxygen.
The now dead six-year-old boy, Henesh Ramlakhan, was the only child of Jairam Ramlakhan and Vidya Persaud, residents of Anna Catherina, West Coast Demerara.
The young mother told Kaieteur News yesterday that on the morning of February 5, her son started experiencing breathing problems, and that knowing his condition, she knew that all he needed was some oxygen.
Persaud said that she did not want to risk taking her son to as far as Georgetown, and therefore opted to rush the child to the nearest health facility for a quick supply of oxygen, which she suspected that he needed.
“I did know that when he get the l’il oxygen he would be alright, but if I did only know that a proper looking and important place like the Leonora Hospital didn’t even have oxygen, I would ah tek the chance and carry he to Georgetown.”
“…Like I couldn’t even believe it. That shock me, because I knew is oxygen my son had to get.”
Persaud said that her son had a heart condition, and would frequent the clinic at the Georgetown Public Hospital where he is usually treated and sent away.
At least two Region Three officials said that the child was in a critical condition, and would have died even with the oxygen. However, Ramlakhan’s mother insists despite her son’s illness, she knew that all he needed at the time was some oxygen.
Persaud told this publication that after informing her that there was no oxygen, the Leonora Hospital staff called for an ambulance to transport the child to Georgetown. Unfortunately, the child was unable to breathe and died before the ambulance could arrive.
Initially, the circumstances surrounding the child’s death were not made public. However, Kaieteur News obtained the minutes of a recent statuary meeting, which quoted the hospital’s assistant administrator, Dev Hira, as saying that a report compiled by the institution’s Cuban Director states that the child died due to the lack of oxygen.
This newspaper was unable to make contact with Hira for a comment on the issue. However, another Region Three Councillor said that while the minutes did quote Hira as telling regional councillors that the child’s death is the third incident of that kind at the institution, the document, although authentic, misrepresented what Hira meant.
“The document will be corrected, but it should be noted that it was the third time that the hospital was completely out of oxygen, not the third time that somebody died.”
It is no secret that health facilities across the country have been facing a significant shortage of drugs. Authorities would usually say that this is due to the lack of communications at the health centres and hospitals.
Just recently, Indra Chandarpal, Chairperson of the Parliamentary Sectoral Committee on Social Services, told this newspaper that the shortage is as a result of weak communication between Regional Health Authorities and the Ministry of Health’s bond at Diamond, East Bank Demerara.
Chandarpal explained that the health centres on West Demerara would have to send their request to the West Demerara Regional Hospital, which would in turn request the drugs from the national bond.
She noted, too, that the shortage of medical supplies at health facilities should not be a regular feature, since the Regional budgets cater for health services.
Meanwhile, this newspaper understands that during a recent statutory meeting, the Regional Health Officer, Ms. Nadia Coleman, told councillors that she was no longer prepared to deal with the region’s health struggles, since the shortage of drugs cannot be pinned on her.
According to two of the regional councillors, Coleman explained that whenever she requests four or five oxygen cylinders, the region would receive two or three.
“I was made to understand that they does be telling her that the supplies are wasting, so they only providing what they think would be used, so that’s the situation,” Alliance For Change (AFC) Councillor, Harry Deokinanan said.
He claims that when the region’s administration receives the short stock of oxygen, Coleman is forced to make the call as to which one of the hospitals and health centres should benefit from the supply.
Meanwhile, in addition to the inadequate supply of drugs, there is also a possibility that the existing supply of medications is expired.
This was according to Alliance for Change Councillor, and member of the Region Three Health Committee, Dr. Kamal Narine, who explained that when health centres and hospitals request drugs from the storage bond at the West Demerara Regional Hospital, protocols are often not followed and instead of being lodged at the bond of the requesting hospital for inspection, the medications are sent directly to the individual departments.
“This is a mad, mad situation. In situations like this, you even got people being treated with wrong doses. Then there is no proper audit of the drugs, so I am sure that many are expired,” Dr. Narine posited.
Because he is a member of the region’s health committee, who has insights into the health issues facing the district, he does not utilize the services offered.
“It’s frightening. I would prefer to go to a private institution,” Dr. Narine declared, adding that even the X-ray machine and telecommunication at the Leonora Hospital does not work.
“This is nonsense! And we have the Minister doing nothing. Before, we used to have problems, yes, but this new Minister…I don’t know what he doing,” Dr. Narine said.
Efforts to contact the Health Minister, Dr. Bheri Ramsaran were futile.
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