SAN JUAN Jamaican Health Minister Fenton Ferguson stepped down on Monday amid a growing controversy over outbreaks of bacterial infection at two hospitals that have claimed the lives of 19 babies since June.
Horace Dalley will succeed Ferguson, Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller said in a statement.
The government feels the anguish of the mothers and fathers who have lost their babies. We are truly sorry for your pain and the loss of these precious lives, she said.
The Jamaican leader pointed to the work done by her government over the past four years to reduce deaths of mothers and babies during childbirth.
I have given instructions to the new minister of health, the Honorable Horace Dalley that every effort must be made as quickly as possible to correct the shortcomings in the health sector, Simpson-Miller said.
A total of 19 newborns have died from bacterial infections at the University Hospital of the West Indies and Cornwall Regional Hospital.
The infections were caused by klebsiella and serratia, two common types of bacteria.
Most of the fatalities were premature babies.
The Health Ministry says it has taken steps to increase monitoring of sanitation practices, improve training of hospital staff and restrict items allowed into nurseries, among other measures.