Shake-up in Jamaica’s Cabinet

Jamaican Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller.
Associated Press / Kazuhiro Nogi, Pool

Jamaica Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller has announced a shake-up in her Cabinet effective Nov. 9.

She has replaced the controversial Minister of Health Dr. Fenton Ferguson who has been transferred to the Ministry of Labor.

Dr. Ferguson has come under fire over the deaths of 19 babies from an outbreak of bacteria at two hospitals.

Prime Minister Simpson Miller has ordered Horace Dalley “to correct the shortcomings in the health sector.”

Dalley will be assigned to the Ministry of Health, Dr. Fenton Ferguson has moved to the Ministry of Labor and Social Security and Derrick Kellier will continue to lead the ministry of agriculture and fisheries.

In announcing the changes, the prime minister said she has listened to the recent discussions and expressions of concern, some of which could have the effect of distracting from the very important focus of economic and social reforms.

She said the country must be united in purpose so as to ensure that the positive path that Jamaica is on will not be disrupted in any way.

Dalley will continue the program of improved healthcare delivery at the ministry of health and has also been tasked by the prime minister to continue giving oversight to the remaining elements of the public sector wage negotiations.

Ferguson will give focus to the government’s priority of labor market reforms, which are essential.

The prime minister was responding to concerns expressed by the Jamaica Manufacturers Association (JMA) who said it is disappointed that those responsible for their actions and appealed to her to ensure that there’s “substantive accountability and transparency” within the health sector.

In a statement the JMA commenting on the controversy within the health sector sparked by the deaths of 19 babies from an outbreak of bacteria at two hospitals, said the actions taken by the prime minister have not adequately addressed the situation.

The JMA said it would be keenly observing to see the steps the new health minister will now undertake to ensure accountability and transparency and that it would also be observing the performance of Dr. Ferguson in his new capacity.

The prime minister said she felt the anguish of the 19 babies who died at the University Hospital of the West Indies and Cornwall Regional Hospital due to bacterial infections earlier this year.

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