Senegal is once again tragically bereaved because of the serious shortcomings of its public health system. Eleven babies died on Wednesday in a fire in a hospital in Tivaouane, in the west of the country.

“I have just learned with pain and dismay of the death of 11 newborns in the fire that occurred in the neonatology department of the public hospital in Tivaouane, tweeted Senegalese President Macky Sall. “To their moms and families, I express my deepest sympathy,” he added.

“Three babies were saved,” said the mayor of Tivaouane, Demba Diop. The fire was caused by “a short circuit and the fire spread very quickly”, explained the one who is also a deputy and better known under the name of Diop Sy.

Macky Sall hastily returns from Geneva

“This situation is very regrettable and extremely painful. The investigation is underway to see what happened,” Health Minister Abdoulaye Diouf Sarr said on RFM radio on Wednesday. The president, on a trip to Geneva where he was attending a meeting of the World Health Organization, announced that he was returning to Senegal this Thursday.

A team from the Ministry of Health, led by the director of public health establishments Ousmane Dia, was on its way to Tivaouane, we also learned from the ministry. Interior Minister Antoine Félix Abdoulaye Diome was also expected overnight from Wednesday to Thursday in Tivaouane.

Many tragedies in hospitals

“More burnt babies in a public hospital. This is unacceptable Macky Sall,” tweeted opposition MP Mamadou Lamine Diallo. Four newborns had already perished on April 25, 2021 in a fire in Linguère, in the north of the country. The mayor and then Minister of the Interior, Aly Ngouille Ndiaye, had mentioned an electrical malfunction of an air conditioning unit in the maternity ward.

More recently, another tragedy that occurred in a public hospital had upset Senegal. The press had reported that Astou Sokhna, a woman in her thirties who was nine months pregnant, died on April 1 at the public hospital in Louga (north) after having waited in great pain for twenty days. hours the caesarean she was asking for. Staff allegedly argued that her operation was unplanned and threatened to kick her out if she insisted.

This death had sparked a wave of indignation on social networks against the dysfunctions of the health system. Faced with the outcry, President Sall had instructed to seek responsibility. The director of the hospital was dismissed and replaced. Three midwives who were on call the night of the tragedy were given a six-month suspended prison sentence on May 11 for “failure to assist a person in danger”.

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