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100 children die in state’s care

marciadottin, [email protected]

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KINGSTON, Jamaica – Almost 100 children died while in state care between 2005 and 2008 from varying causes including “pneumonia, drowning, head injuries, haemorrhage due to gunshot wounds, leptospirosis and stab wounds to the chest”.Statistics for 2009 and the first half of 2010 were not yet compiled.Most of the deaths over the three-year period were due to natural causes, data provided by the Office of Children’s Advocate (OCA) revealed, but Children’s Advocate Mary Clarke is frustrated with “Government’s tardiness in adequately caring for its wards.Criminally liable In an interview with The Sunday Gleaner, she questioned whether anyone should be held criminally liable for the death of a child in the care of the state.Dr Carolyn Gomes, a trained medical doctor and executive director of Jamaicans For Justice, was alarmed by many of the causes of death, which had a string of various strains of pneumonia figuring prominently on the list.Treatable conditions“In this day and age, children should not die of bronchopneumonia and dehydration. Those are treatable conditions.“It would suggest that they were not taken for appropriate care in a timely fashion,” Gomes explained as she pointed out that many of the illnesses listed as cause of death are not ailments that kill you immediately.To compound the problem, several post-mortem and coroner’s reports on the deaths of the children between 2005 and 2008 are still pending, and it has not yet been determined if anyone was criminally liable for the loss of life.Official documents have revealed that of the approximately 89 deaths during the four-year period, at least six post-mortems were listed as pending.While Clarke said she would leave that determination to trained medical professionals, she appealed for an injection of more trained personnel to attend to the needs of children with multiple disabilities.“What I’m saying that I know categorically is that you don’t have enough specialist staff to take care of children with disabilities,” Clarke said.