Eleven newborns have died in a fire at a hospital in the western Senegalese city of Tihuahuan, the country’s president said last night.
Shortly before midnight in Senegal, Mackie Sol announced on Twitter that a fire had killed 11 babies.
“I have just learned with pain and frustration about the deaths of 11 newborns as a result of a fire in the neonatal ward of the state hospital,” he wrote on Twitter.
“I express my deepest condolences to their mothers and their families,” Sal added.
The tragedy took place at the hospital of Mama Abdu Aziz Si Dabah in the transport hub of Tivauan and was caused by a “short circuit”, said Senegalese politician Diop Si.
“The fire was spreading very fast,” he said.
Mayor Demba Diop said “three children have been rescued”.
According to local media, the hospital of Mama Abdu Aziz Si Dabah was recently opened.
Health Minister Abdullah Diouf Sar, who was in Geneva for a meeting with the World Health Organization, said he would return to Senegal immediately.
“This situation is very annoying and extremely painful,” he said on the radio. “An investigation is underway to find out what happened.”
The tragedy in Tivahuan followed several other incidents in Senegal’s public health facilities, where there is a big difference between urban and rural areas in health services.
In late April, a fire broke out at a hospital in the northern city of Linger, killing four newborns. The mayor of this city referred to a malfunction of electricity in the air conditioner in the maternity ward.
‘Enough means enough‘
Yesterday’s accident also came a month after the nation mourned the death of a pregnant woman who was waiting in vain for a cesarean.
A woman named Astou Sokhna arrived at a hospital in the northern city of Luga in pain. Officers refused to grant her request for a cesarean section, saying it was not planned.
She died on April 1, 20 hours after arrival.
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Sokhna’s death sparked a wave of outrage across the country over the dire state of Senegal’s health care system, and Health Minister Sar two weeks later acknowledged that the death could have been avoided.
Three midwives on duty the night of Sokhna’s death were sentenced on May 11 by the Luga High Court to six months in prison with a suspended sentence for “failing to assist a person in danger” in connection with her case.
Amnesty International Director in Senegal Sadie Gassama said his organization had called for the inspection and modernization of neonatology services in hospitals across Senegal following the “brutal” deaths of four babies in Linger.
Regarding yesterday’s recent tragedy, Amnesty “calls on the government to set up an independent commission of inquiry to determine responsibility and punish the perpetrators, regardless of their level in the state apparatus,” he tweeted.
Opposition MP Mamadou Lamin Diallo also reacted with indignation to the fire in Tiwan, which killed babies.
“More babies were burned at the state hospital … it’s unacceptable @MackySall,” he said.
“We suffer together with our families, to whom we express our condolences. Enough means enough. “