Eleven babies die in Senegal hospital blaze

Published May 27, 2022
VISITORS stand outside Mame Abdoul Aziz Sy Dabakh Hospital on Thursday.—AFP
VISITORS stand outside Mame Abdoul Aziz Sy Dabakh Hospital on Thursday.—AFP

TIVAOUANE: Eleven newborn babies have perished in a hospital fire blamed on an electrical short circuit in Senegal’s western city of Tivaouane, authorities said on Thursday.

In the latest in a series of hospital deaths that have exposed the weaknesses of the nation’s healthcare system, President Macky Sall announced the tragedy on Twitter before declaring thr­ee days of national mourning.

“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,” Sall wrote after the fire on Wednesday.

“To their mothers and the­ir families, I express my dee­p­est sympathy,” he tweeted.

“Where is Mohamed?,” asked one of the distraught mothers outside Mame Abd­ou Aziz Sy Dabakh Hospital in Tivaouane, a city that has a population of 40,000.

Her baby son was taken to the hospital 10 days ago and was baptised on Monday, Mohamed’s 54-year-old father Alioune Diouf said.

The city’s mayor Demba Diop said the fire had been caused by “a short circuit and spread very quickly”.

Local media quoted witnesses saying gas bottles exploded preventing any rescue attempts. Health Minister Abdoulaye Diouf Sarr was quoted in media reports also blaming an electrical fault. The maternity unit was equipped to take care of 13 babies. “At the time of the fire, there were 11, whom nurses were unable to save,” the minister said.

Mayor Demba Diop said “three babies were saved”. World Health Organisation chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus tweeted that he was “beyond heartbroken with this tragic news.

“I’m sending my deepest condolences to the parents and families of the babies who lost their lives.” Health Minister Sarr, who had been in Geneva attending a meeting with the WHO, said “an investigation is under way to see what happened”.

The tragedy in Tivaouane comes after several other public health incidents in Senegal, which suffers from a great disparity between urban and rural areas in healthcare services.

Published in Dawn, May 27th, 2022

Opinion

Editorial

Miftah’s misery
06 Jul, 2022

Miftah’s misery

IT cannot be easy to be finance minister in times like these, with friend and foe alike gunning for you over...
Phone tapping
06 Jul, 2022

Phone tapping

IT is the season of audio leaks. No sooner does one ‘incriminating’ clip lose its shock value than another...
Transgender job quota
06 Jul, 2022

Transgender job quota

IN a society where transgender persons often face violence and abuse, the Sindh Assembly’s decision to reserve a...
Warming ties
05 Jul, 2022

Warming ties

BILATERAL ties with the US are clearly on the mend after an extensive rough patch under the PTI government. While ...
LNG emergency
Updated 05 Jul, 2022

LNG emergency

The problem is that Pakistan does not have sufficient cash at the moment to buy even a single LNG cargo at present prices.
The invisible half
05 Jul, 2022

The invisible half

WHAT better illustrates the Afghan Taliban’s misogynistic and mediaeval worldview than the fact that not a single...