The State intends to appeal Friday’s High Court judgement which found that the Ministry of Health failed to provide specialised health care to a six-year-old Chaguanas boy with birth defects associated with the Zika virus. This was revealed by Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh who commented briefly on the matter yesterday
In an immediate response, former Chief of Staff at the Mt Hope Women’s Hospital and president of the Zika Foundation Dr Karen Sohan said she was disappointed that the state is choosing to use taxpayer funds to appeal the case instead of providing Zika-affected children and their families with the help they need.
“The judgment delivered by Justice Charles was comprehensive and clear and I am certain it will be upheld in the court of appeal,” Sohan said.
“One of the things the families always mentioned was the lack of support. They felt abandoned and again we are going through this same thing. As I said, it’s very unfortunate and it’s another blow to the families.”
Guardian Media is currently awaiting statistics on Zika and babies affected by the disease. However, Dr Sohan doubts that the figures will be comprehensive due to difficulties in tracking these types of cases. She said there are at least 20 families with the Foundation who had births affected by the virus.
“Since this ruling that involved a single family, we’ve had many of the families reach out to us because, of course, they were hopeful that this meant their children were going to get the healthcare and the special equipment, particularly the things to help with walking and mobility. They are going to be very, very disheartened,” she said.
High Court Judge Joan Charles upheld a judicial review lawsuit brought by Kavita Ramkissoon-Ragoo on behalf of her son who was born in 2017 with Microcephaly from the Zika virus.
Justice Charles ruled that Deyalsingh and the ministry’s permanent secretary breached their duties under the Regional Health Authorities Act by failing to implement comprehensive guidelines and protocols for treating Davyn and other children like him. She said it constituted a breach of T&T’s international obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).
Justice Charles ruled that the ministry’s failure to provide urgent and specialised care to Davyn breached his constitutional right to life and ordered that he and his family receive compensation, including aggravated damages, which will be calculated by a High Court Master. She also ordered that the ministry begin providing Davyn with the treatment he needs and provide financial assistance to his family.