(Jamaica Gleaner) Annette Hannan, the mother of four-year-old Rihanna Rupon, who died from dengue fever last week, says she’s left angry and devastated by the death of her child.
For her, Rihanna would be alive had health authorities been more open with the public about the dengue threat.
How Rihanna became sick
Hannan said that on December 14, 2018, her daughter developed an extremely high fever. She took her to a doctor’s office, where she was prescribed Cataflam, among other drugs containing aspirin, as the doctor believed she had an ear-and-throat infection.
“After she taking the medication and I realise she just getting hotter, I say I not going to sit down with it and carry her go up a [Bustamante Hospital for] Children.
“When me reach Children’s, them assess her and gave her more Panadol then ordered a blood test to see what causing the fever,” Hannan said.
She stated that while waiting for the assessment, she realised that her daughter, who was sitting on her lap, got extremely weak and later defecated on herself.
She then rushed Rihanna to the bathroom to clean her up, where, according to her, she vomited and her limbs became stiff.
She said she returned to the doctor to explain what had occurred.
According to the mother, the doctor told her that the four-year-old was responding to the pain she was experiencing.
She said that realising that the child was not improving, the doctors told her that they would need to do a CT scan and a dengue test.
According to her, the doctors said that the process would take some time at Bustamante and recommended that she visit the Kingston Public Hospital for a quicker turnaround time on the tests.
Hannan said she followed the recommendation.
“The result came back say she have dengue, and then the Tuesday, the 18th, she go straight in ICU (the Intensive Care Unit at the Bustamante Hospital], and she was spitting blood, and things did a come off her stomach. The dengue lick her brain, she never recover,” the mother stated.
She said that during the course of her being admitted at the hospital, doctors tried to flush medication from Rihanna’s body in order to conduct brain surgery.
The child would subsequently become brain-dead and was placed on life support.
Rihanna’s life-support machine was eventually unplugged on January 9, 2019, and Hannan said she fainted shortly afterwards.
The mother says she is still angry and sad about her daughter’s death.
“I don’t blame that doctor that give my child that Cataflam. I would blame the health minister. Him carelessness mek my child lose her life, and she was so brilliant.
“When she went to basic school, the teachers were amazed. When she was in class four, them put her in class five to how she smart, and when you feeling down, she just mek yuh day,” said the distraught mother.
The Gleaner has been trying to get a comment from the Ministry of Health, but a promised response has not been forthcoming.
In a statement to Parliament on January 3, 2019, Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton said that the ministry’s enhanced vector-control activities began in July 2018 and have now been extended to March 2019 to include the employment of an additional 500 temporary workers, who will join the effort to identify and eliminate mosquito-breeding sites.
This, he said, is in addition to the retraining of Ministry of Health vector-control works done earlier in the year.
He further stated that the Ministry of Health had confirmed that Jamaica had surpassed the outbreak threshold for dengue based on the number of reported cases in December 2018.
Tufton noted that December was the first time that Jamaica had exceeded the outbreak threshold of 96 cases, with 123 dengue reports.