What about our Babies? Belize City

Audrey Matura-ShepherdI know I have mentioned before that I have a four year old daughter, whom I had fifteen years after my last child.  Yes I have a soon to be 23 year old and 20 year old and so I have experience raising children of my own.  And like all parents, especially mothers who birth them, there is an un-severable connection and desire to see their child succeed in life.   Any parent who has lost a child, be it at birth or later in their adult life, will tell you it is one of the most painful human experience that tears at your heart and changes you forever.

I had a relative lose her son to cancer and she told me that she felt guilty to be alive and still living her life, knowing he will not reach her age, see his kids into adulthood and have the fullness of life she has enjoyed past the three scores.   I felt her pain and cannot say I can comprehend the magnitude of it because thank God, I still have my three kids with me and so proudly enjoy seeing them all grow up under my roof and with my guidance.

Dying babies

But as a mother, I cannot help but also feel the pain of so many of our women losing their children to violence, crimes and now hospital bacterial breakout.  The latter is a grave issue because in less than a  year alone it is the second serious case of a high infant mortality rate.  In the Northern Regional Hospital, late last year to early this year saw some of the most alarming news reports about the babies dying at childbirth.  Who could even forget the mother who swore she had twins but yet one of her babies was not accounted for?  There was an outcry and still nothing substantial has come out of that nightmare situation for those mothers.

Now as if though the spirit of death is making it rounds at the hospitals in the month of May in the major tertiary care institution tragedy hit again, but this time the number of babies dying increased and so did the outcry from all quarters.   How could 13 babies die in a span of 20 days?  And yes, key administrators say they learnt about it via the local news… then that means some reporting system was not right.  And to confirm this former CEO, Dr. Alvaro Rosado openly discussed how it was during his tenure, what he would have done and what should be done now. HE was polite but surely did not hold back at what he fell short of calling gross negligence.

What next?

But these sort of matters cannot be swept under the rug, nor buried in some report, no matter how much the administration and doctors do not wish to discuss it openly the public has a right to know.  So the government announced that there would be an investigation and everyone awaited to hear where they failed, but instead as one commentator puts it, they pat each other on the shoulder, say all that could have been possibly done was done and that they regret the incident but such outbreaks are normal…hmmm

Well I join voice with all those who have been saying that such investigation cannot cut it, because it’s simply allowing the same accused person to conduct his own investigation.  Since when the very people who are under scrutiny are the same once doing the scrutiny of themselves and reporting to us? It is good that they are seeking their own internal answers to want to report and feel they are getting their own answers, but truth be told, if the Government really wants to probe into the matter, it has to appoint an independent body.  This situation really requires a different set of eyes, which will not have the pressure of wanting to see things only their way. After all, let’s face it who will come out and outright condemn themselves for any failure in the system? But also an independent body may exonerate their position thus giving them the credibility and pass mark they need.

Plus, more importantly, the public’s confidence can only be gained if and when there is a fully impartial investigation by a group of people not connected to the situation and under whose watch the problem did not occur.  I don’t agree anyone needs to resign or be removed – at least not until the independent investigation is completed, so as to give legitimate cause should the need to axe people arises.  Said investigating team, could comprise retired doctors, nurses and administrators etc.  however, the probe is not only to determine where the system faltered, but to also make recommendations for improvement.

I don’t think that our people in office, power or/and positions understand that transparency and accountability is a hallmark of good governance and that once you provide  a service to the public you are to be accountable…. It’s a concept lacking too often in our professionals because we have a developed a culture of us not feeling we need to answer to anyone because we are above all and above the law.

Pain of the Parents

To the parents I say, do not yield and get worn by the lack of disclosure to you.  You have a right to get the answers as to what went wrong that ultimately caused your child’s death.  And for any parent to be able to come to terms with the passing of their new born, they need answers, only so they will start to have closure.

I have known of great success stories at the KHMH in relation to the intensive care offered at the Neonatal Unit, and I recall them having reunions with some “premi” (for premature) kids a couple years back because such kids are walking miracles, so I know that impressive work has been done in said unit.  And because of that knowledge I know something had to have gone awfully wrong to now have us discussing the deaths of 13 babies.  Any right thinking person would want to know, how come that unit went from boasting success in very marginal cases to this!  The truth of what really transpired may be painful, but knowing it will result in preventative measures being put in place.

I know nothing can bring back their child and wipe away the pain of their loss… sadly so many are young parents and one mother says it’s her second child lost at the hospital… but remaining calm and grounded in these times is critical.  Thus, it would be prudent that the parents write down details and a report of the incident so that if they indeed take the matter to court they do not miss any key points that would help their case. Especially, important is remembering names of persons, medications, medical terms and things said to them by hospital employees.   Further, they must demand a copy of the content of their child’s file.  It is their right to know and have a copy.

I must admit I was alarmed by the deaths one after the other, one would have still been one too much, but a dozen…well that is not just a mere situation of some calculated loss, it was a wipe out of more than half the unit’s patients!  The minute two, then three died, alarm bells should have been ringing so loud that corrective measure could have been put in place.

My cousin’s infection

I was too paralyzed to write about this situation because it brought back memories of how my cousin Wallace Donald Matura died from an infection as a result of the bullet wounds sustained. In the span of 24 hours of being removed from the “make-shift”  ICU, he picked up a bug and that was his end.  First let me explain that to my shock the previous system of a full ICU was no longer at the hospital.  I remember the days when you could not enter such unit without full gown, mask and shoe covering…I was shocked that anyone could enter with all their germs and bacteria exposed and readily able to attack any vulnerable patient.  I asked questions and was even more alarmed to find out the ICU was downgrade to amalgamate with a private ward… it’s so complicated and illogical I don’t know how to make readers understand that it is a mess.

At least it was still cleaner and less outside contact was possible compared to the general ward, where all and sundry traffic through.  So his final days were critical and as he began to recover, the doctors decided it was time to send him up to the general ward knowing how susceptible he still was to infections… he was not in the clear yet.   So late the Friday night he was moved to the general ward, by midday the Saturday he started to feel ill, by the night he has profuse sweating and high temperature, all sign of an infection, no doctor around to attend to attend to him.  He thinks maybe it is just a hot day.  by Sunday midday he begins to have problem breathing, by Sunday night he says he feels like he is dying and could barely breathe, still none of his attending doctors could be reached, by late that night finally a nurse puts him on a ventilator.  By early Monday morning a total of four doctors finally come to see him.  We say we will pay for the private room within the so-called ICU and he is moved, he tries to remain upbeat but over 50% of his lungs in covered with water.  By 3:00 am Tuesday morning he is placed in an induced coma and placed on life support by Wednesday midday he dies…..

Yes he too had been recovering… we did all in our power to help the hospital and they let us down… but they will never admit it!  So I could only imagine how these parents feel.  The loss of an innocent little bundle of joy must be one of the most painful things in life!  We still feel out loss!

Our children’s future

Now, as if our children are not under enough attack and bombardment of the media-cult, parents who do not have their children hospitalized now have to worry about their wellbeing at school, as the new gender policy is geared towards, capturing their gullible minds at a tender age and throughout their time at school.

As if the HFLE manual was not enough to fight off, to amazement of parents like me, the government via the Women’s Department, has sought to push on us their new vision of a society defined no longer by sex, but by sexual orientation.  Ironically, so many pressing women’s issue have never been so forcefully fought for, that even today there is nothing in place where women can  prosecute police for failing to respond properly to reports of women and child-abuse.  There is not system in place to punish anyone in society, who discriminates against women or fail to assist women in vulnerable situations…neither is there a move to address women and child abuse in the school system so that from an early age our male and female child is able to discuss and report any abuse they are suffering and to also cope with the witnessing of abuse of a parent.

Yet, we have a policy in full force to give not only special rights to anyone choosing to have a sexual orientation not reflective of their biological makeup, but to force such teachings at all level of our schools and to have state sponsored lawsuits  against anyone who holds a contrary view.  Wow, how many women we have in and out of family court and unable to get the state to help them with their case for child maintenance, collection of arrears, enforcement of restraining order, custody and the list goes on… this rather large vulnerable group once again have had the policy high jacked by the interest of the LGBT, but under the guise of the one department dealing with women’s issue.  I guess the name must have changed to the GENDER Department and we were not aware of it. So I might be corrected.

Its gender over child and women!

So there are some very good principles stated about women and children in the gender policy, but beneath those is the hidden dagger that will change the entire dynamics of our society and detracts from the seemingly good points on women and children.  The paradox of the situation is that in the area dealing with “Best interests of the Child” it does not state what are the priorities that must be given to ensure our children are properly provided for… so we do not have the ongoing situation of boys and girls not having proper shelter, food, education, and most of all safety from predators.  I would think that is a priority for children, especially addressing the recent rise in child abuse, disappearance and sexual assaults.  Rather under best interest of the child they thought it more important to confuse our children about their sex and from early steer them towards “gender” socialization.

The statement reads “: The best interests of the child must be a priority in the establishment of all policies, programmes and decisions that impact on development in Belize. This approach recognizes the fundamental role of gender socialization on the development of the child and on the child’s later gender role expectations and behaviours as an adult.”  Nothing is said that the child’s basic needs and safety is the priority, rather that the approach is about gender orientation.  My child is growing up in this society and I want the Women’s Department or any arm of government to please show me the research and study that shows that the present socialization of our boys and girls is detrimental to them and so now we need to change that “socialization” to keep them safe, free from hunger, abuse, and the snares of society… please I truly want to see the studies….

This is what the policy says about children’s education: “According to the Belize Education Strategy Sector, although there is little hard evidence regarding educational quality, there is a commonly held view that it is low… Performance in national examinations at the end of primary and secondary  cycles have reached a plateau..”   yet the priority is not on changing this nor getting the studies to help craft a solution!

I really don’t know when we as women were side-step and our platform for us and our children assaulted, but I somehow got left out of the conversation on a policy that was once a women’s policy seeking to force government to comply with CEDAW – the Convention for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women.  As is stated in this Gender policy the purpose of it is to “act as a basis for establishing a legal framework that supports and facilitates the achievement of gender equality and equity”, yet our Prime Minister is trying to make all feel it’s no big deal because it is not law, yet the very document says it is to be used to set the “national  direction for policies, laws, programmes and projects…”

Belizeans please go learn about gender so you can appreciate the shift of the social tectonic plates that has taken place.  God bless us all, especially our children!

By Audrey Matura-Shepherd

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