A hospital fire that killed 11 newborn babies in Senegal may have been caused by an electrical short circuit, the country’s health minister said on Thursday.
Diouf Sarr told local radio RFM: “When we heard about it, we called the management to find out what had happened. We were told there was a short circuit in the department. The nurses who were there intervened.
Sarr is in Geneva, Switzerland, where he is attending the World Health Assembly conference. He cut short his trip and will return to Senegal immediately, his ministry said.
The fire occurred at the Mame Abdou Aziz Sy Dabakh hospital in Senegal’s western town of Tivaouane, the country’s president, Macky Sall, said.
“I have just learned, with pain and dismay, of the death of 11 newborn babies,” Sall said. said in a tweet on Thursday. “I express my deepest sympathy to their mothers and their families,” he added.
CNN has contacted the hospital, but has not yet received a response.
Sall declared three days of national mourning from Thursday and flags will be flown at half mast during this period, a statement from the presidency said.
The president has also launched an investigation to determine the cause of the fire, the country’s Interior Minister Antoine Felix Abdoulaye Diome told reporters during a visit to the hospital on Wednesday night.
“Beyond that, he (Sall) asked that we review all the equipment and infrastructure dedicated to newborns who need help with machines for their care,” Diome said.
“We are going to do it here in Tivaouane and in all the hospitals in Senegal where there is a neonatology service,” he added.
Senegal’s Minister of Territorial Planning and Local Authorities, Cheikh Bamba Dièye, called the fatal incident “horrible and unacceptable” while calling for an investigation into the country’s health systems.
“I am appalled by the horrific and unacceptable deaths of 11 newborn babies in Tivaouane. The recurrence of tragedies in our hospitals reminds us of the obligation to thoroughly review the quality of service in our hospitals. My deepest condolences to the families,” he said. said in a Twitter post.
Senegal has a strong reputation for health care in West Africa and its response to Covid-19 has been praised by the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, among others.
However, the country has been rocked by recent health scandals, including a fire in the neonatal unit of a hospital in Linguère, northern Senegal, where four babies died.
Three midwives also caused outrage in the country earlier this month after they were accused of refusing a caesarean section to a pregnant woman. The woman is said to have died later.
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