Eleven newborn babies have died in a hospital fire at Mame Abdou Aziz Sy Dabakh in Senegal’s Western city of Tivaouane.
“I have just learned with pain and dismay about the deaths of 11 newborn babies in the fire at the neonatal department of the public hospital,” Macky Sall, the president of Senegal tweeted on Wednesday, May 25.
Abdoulaye Diouf Sarr, Senegal’s health minister said on a private Senegalese television TFM that “according to preliminary investigation, a short circuit triggered the fire.”
The maternity unit was equipped to take care of 13 babies. “At the time of the fire, there were 11 babies, whom nurses were unable to save,” the minister said.
“The fire spread very quickly.”
Demba Diop, the city’s mayor, said the fire had been caused by a short circuit and it spread very quickly before any babies could be saved.
He added that a midwife and nurse were present with the babies, denying allegations from relatives at the hospital and across social media stating that the babies had been left alone.
“There was no negligence,’” Diop insisted.
He also told local media that “five minutes after the fire incident, the fire brigade arrived. People used fire extinguishers.”
Grieving parents and residents have expressed their anger over the tragic accident. During a video interview by Global News, Anta Ba, lost one of her triplets who was receiving treatments at the hospital.
“One of my babies was too small, so she stayed in the incubator. When I arrived at the hospital, I was told by the guard that all the babies in the paediatric ward had died,” Anta said.
Ousmane Kane, a local resident, told BBC Africa that, “This event hurts the whole of Senegal. Especially because it occurred in Tivaouane. A city of peace. A holy City.”
In response to the incident, Macky Sall, Senegal’s President, fired the health minister on Thursday, May 26 and announced three days of national mourning for the death of the newborns.
Senegal’s health minister, Abdoulaye Diouf Sarr, who has since been sacked from his post, says that the state is waiting for “the expert report from SENELEC (National Electricity Company of Senegal)” to find out the cause of the fire that killed the babies.
This tragic incident has raised concerns if senegal’s hospitals are failing, especially as it was also reported that in 2021, four babies died in another hospital fire in the Northern town of Linguere, and a woman and her unborn baby died in April after a hospital denied her a Caesarean section during a protracted labour.
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