JAMAICA | PNP Condemns Health Minister for Blaming Mothers for Their Own Deaths

JAMAICA | PNP Condemns Health Minister for Blaming Mothers for Their Own Deaths

KINGSTON, Jamaica. June 22, 2024: Shadow Minister on Gender Affairs, Persons with Disabilities & Inclusion, Denise Daley, wants the Minister of Health and Wellness, Christopher Tufton, to retract his comments that suggest mothers who have died giving birth are to be blamed for their own deaths.

A statement from the PNP said “the Minister, in his defence of the poor state of antenatal care, stated that "It was about mothers turning up late, chronic illnesses that have not been treated or controlled, which made the pregnancies more risky."

"In casting blame on mothers for making their own pregnancies risky, the Minister is hoping to shift blame away from the poor state of antenatal care with basic bloodwork and ultrasounds not readily available," said Daley.

"The Minister's crude attempt at deflecting blame also ignores the fact that in the Southern Region Health Authority, the maternal mortality rate increased by 1000% over five years.

“Is the Minister saying that mothers in Clarendon, Manchester, and St. Elizabeth are ten times more likely to not treat their underlying illnesses or go to clinics than other Jamaican women? It is the coldest form of victim-blaming that I have ever seen. Blaming pregnant women for their own deaths."

The Minister also attributed the rise in maternal mortality rates to the COVID pandemic, even though the deaths attributed to COVID were minuscule except for the outlier year of 2021. The data put out by the Ministry of Health contradicts the Minister’s claims, as 2019 saw a higher maternal mortality rate than 2020 when COVID hit Jamaica.

"What the Minister is doing is shifting blame away from his own failings and blaming a virus and the very women who have lost their lives as a result of the poor state of the health sector under his watch," said Daley.

"This callous and cowardly approach will not solve the problem, and more women and children will perish while the government focuses on public relations to save face."

What the country needs is an explanation as to why some regional health authorities were able to contain the number of maternal deaths attributable to COVID-19, while others saw massive increases that cannot be explained by chronic diseases and the pandemic.

The Shadow Minister immediately calls for the Minister to retract his statements and to cease dishonouring the memories of those who have passed, leaving grieving families and motherless children.

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