Caribbean News  Round-up

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Boy, 7, downs in La Vega river

drowning[TT Newsday] – A seven-year-old boy of La Vega Village, Gran Couva, is suspected to have drowned in a swimming area known as the “Bridge” just before the Gran Couva Police Station on Carousal Road. According to reports, at about 1.45 pm, the boy, Jordell Jones, was with his mother Josanne Simon, at the popular swimming area when he slipped and fell into the water. He stayed under the water for five minutes before residents recovered his body.

Jones, a Standard One pupil of the Gran Couva RC school, was rushed to the Couva Health Facility where he died. A post-mortem is expected to be conducted today.

When Newsday visited the family’s home, the boy’s mother was being interviewed by police. The boy’s father Dexter Jones described the incident as a “family outing which turned into a tragedy.” He said he was not with the family when the boy drowned as he had left the outing a short time earlier only to return to get the tragic news of his son’s death.

Jones said he was told by relatives who witnessed the inident that Jordell was running along the river bank with his siblings when he slipped near a mossy area and fell into the water.

 

Venezuela alleges US spy plane violated its airspace

Gen Padrino showed a map of the route the alleged US spy plane took
Gen Padrino showed a map of the route the alleged US spy plane took

[BBC] – Venezuelan Defence Minister Vladimir Padrino said on Sunday that a US plane had violated the South American country’s airspace.

Speaking on television, Gen Padrino said the plane had entered Venezuelan airspace near the Los Monjes archipelago on the Caribbean coast.

The general alleged that the plane belonged to the US Coast Guard.

But a US Coast Guard spokesman said none of their planes had been in the area at the time.

If there is an aircraft, it’s not ours,” Chief Warrant Officer Chad Saylor told Agence France Press news agency.

He also called the Venezuelan allegation “unfounded”.

But Gen Padrino was adamant that the plane had “made circular search patterns and continued going southbound (…) violating Venezuelan airspace”.

Ties between the United States and Venezuela have improved since reaching a low point in March 2015, when the US imposed sanctions on a number of Venezuelan officials for alleged human rights abuses.

However, Venezuela has repeatedly accused the US of meddling in its affairs.

Critics of the Venezuelan government say that officials are trying to stoke patriotic fervour ahead of legislative elections on 6 December.

President Nicolas Maduro said he would denounce what he called “unusual and extraordinary provocations” at the United Nations and other international bodies.

“Venezuela won’t be cowed, Venezuela is standing up and building its own political, economic and social model, and no one should meddle with that,” he said.

 

Brazil dams burst: ‘Hopes of finding survivors fading’

kk[BBC] – Hopes of finding survivors of mudslides and floods on Thursday in Brazil are fading, Governor Fernando Pimentel of Minas Gerais state has said.

A huge wall of red sludge descended on the south-eastern village of Bento Rodrigues when two dams holding waste water from an iron ore mine collapsed.

Hundreds of rescue workers continue to search for 26 people who are missing feared dead.

The authorities have confirmed the death of one person.

Two other bodies have been retrieved, but officials are not sure whether their deaths were connected to the breach of the dams on Thursday afternoon.

They will carry out DNA tests to check if they are related to the 13 mine workers and 13 residents, including five children, who are missing.

“It is unlikely that the 13 workers who were at the dams will be found alive. We have to accept that,” said Mr Pimentel.

Two men, who are related, were located on Sunday evening at a nearby hotel, bringing the number of people feared dead from 28 to 26.

Their family was not aware of their whereabouts and had reported them as missing.

 

Preemies left to die?

baby[Jamaica Observer] – If information from families who have had the experience is to be believed, babies born before 27 weeks, or the beginning of the third trimester, are routinely not given the same level of care in Jamaican public hospitals as babies born at or after that milestone. In fact, according to some, they are simply left to die.

“A good friend of mine had a baby at 25 and a half weeks and was told she could not get an incubator because her baby was not viable and that they save them for babies over 27 weeks. She sat and held her baby for about 12 hours until she died,” said one woman in a social media post in a group called IslandMoms.

Another said: “Jamaican hospitals do not place premies under 27 weeks on respirators or in incubators. They leave them to die because they are not viable.”

The subject has been dominating social and traditional media discussions since Health Minister Dr Fenton Ferguson referred to the 19 premature babies who died from bacterial infections at two of the island’s main public hospitals as “not babies in the real sense”.

Although Dr Ferguson apologised for the comment, it elicited widespread outrage and calls for his resignation. In an apparent surrender to public pressure, Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller on Friday announced his reassignment to the Ministry of Labour and Social Security and the shifting of Horace Dalley, minister without portfolio in charge of the public service, to the health ministry.

In a national broadcast last evening, Simpson Miller said she had instructed Dalley to correct shortcomings in the sector and review the reporting structure between the four regional authorities and his office. He starts in the new role today.

But allegations of systemic, sector-wide mismanagement in general, and disregard for premature babies in particular, might be difficult to shake. The conversations on social media among people who, based on their comments are either neonatologists, paediatricians, nurses or other professionals with experience in neonatal intensive-care units (NICUs), point to issues of staffing, a critical shortage of life-saving equipment and limited physical space for quarantining.

“Not placing neonates under 27 weeks in incubators is not a matter of the hospitals being callous and insensitive towards the right to life, but it is a matter of resources available,” one person with obvious medical experience said.

“Only a few incubators are available, even for babies that meet that criteria. I have seen pediatricians make many make-shift apparatus that have saved many lives. That is a part of the reason many great doctors no longer want to work in public hospitals. You are faced with many hard and sometimes heartbreaking decisions. I have been in situations where even blood-taking tubes are rationed. Leadership in the health sector is lacking. Workers are suffering, patients are suffering and people are dying and may continue to die if we do not hold them accountable,” one person said.

Another said: “It’s not a hard and fast rule re the timeline. It depends on development and availability. There have been times where a 24-weeker has gotten a ventilator but that would be based on availability. The problem is doing that we know that they will stay on it much longer than a 28-weeker. So, imagine the 24-weeker on a ventilator for three months which, in that time period, you would have had 10 other babies come and need a ventilator. It’s unfortunate, but far too many times we have to make the difficult decision of which baby is more likely to survive.”

Yet another said: “Yes, the NICU is overcrowded and understaffed and anyone knowing anything about bacteria will know that that is the perfect environment for a tiny one with no immunity to become ill. If you observe the NICU staff they are clad in caps, cover shoes, aprons and masks while washing their hands and spraying lysol everywhere, but the point is: unitl we get more space, more equipment and more staff, there will always be an infection issue.”

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