Saturday, 8 December 2007

At Last ...

The half-hearted response of Jamaica to atrocities committed against its citizens in the Cayman Islands is continuing with a rather curious Jamaica Gleaner editorial on December 8, 2007.

I sincerely hope the Caribbean Community is looking on closely, at least more closely that Jamaican authorities and my media colleagues.

For what it's worth, the Gleaner editorial is keeping the issue alive ... somewhat.

EDITORIAL - Acknowledging an error
published: Saturday | December 8, 2007

In international affairs, even between countries as physically close and with a shared history as The Cayman Islands and Jamaica, an outright admission of error can be very hard to come by.

It is with a sense of relief, then, not victory, that we note the Cayman government has conceded to an error that led to the birth of Lateisha Julene Clarke on a flight from Cayman to Jamaica on October 2, 2007.

Her mother, 19-year-old Shellesha Woodstock, was giving birth for the first time.

As was reported in The Gleaner, yesterday, The Cayman Islands' "Minister of Health, Anthony Eden, conceded that errors made by the staff of The Cayman Islands' Health Service Authority (HSA) led to Ms. Woodstock giving birth on a Cayman Airways flight en route to Jamaica. Ms. Woodstock did not receive optimal medical care or support she needed in accessing medical resources. It is noted that these failures in clinical care occurred despite the fact that the facilities, staff and operating procedures are generally more than adequate to handle a case such as the one presented."

At the risk of being repetitious, this is a dramatic turnaround from the HSA's initial position, as reported in The Gleaner on Monday, October 8. It was stated then that "fitness to travel was issued after a thorough medical examination confirming that the patient was not in active labour. As a point of interest, ruptured membrane in early pregnancy is not a contra-indication for air travel. The risks and options were explained to the family who chose to travel off-island to deliver the baby and requested a medical certificate allowing clearance by the airline as being fit to travel."

The horse may have already gone through the gate (or, in this case, the baby), but the fact that there is an acknowledgement of error means that should similar circumstances arise, there is a precedent to which those in a position to make the decision can look for guidance.

Although the child, born prematurely, is thankfully in decent health, in this case there is injury of more than the physical kind to take into consideration. Ms. Woodstock's dignity must have suffered a bruising, as she gave birth to her daughter on the floor of an aeroplane, high in the sky. Those could not have been the circumstances under which she envisioned bringing new life into the world.

There is a matter that has not quite been resolved, though, that of the Lateisha Julene Clarke's nationality. At the last report, in early November, the Jamaican authorities had been leaning towards nationality in the land of wood and water, this after the child initially had no nation, both Jamaica and Cayman effectively rejecting her.

Still, it is so regretful that the situation had to arise in the first place.

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