A fire at a hospital in Tivaouane, Senegal, has killed 11 babies. After the disaster, Health Minister Abdoulaye Diouf Sarr was dismissed. Three days of mourning have been declared in the country.
Tivaouane Mayor Demba Diop Sy said the fire broke out from an electrical contact, three babies were rescued.
The tragedy caused great sadness and anger all over the country. The situation of the health sector has been re-opened to discussion.
After hearing the news of the fire, many families flocked to Mame Abdou Aziz Sy Dabakh Hospital to learn the fate of their babies. Parents devastated by the news that their babies had died were seen crying in front of hospitals.
One man, who said his name was Abdou, told the BBC: “We’re damned. My sister-in-law died last month after giving birth. The baby was in the incubator because she was born at seven months of age. Now we have received the news that his son has died.”
Mustafa Cisse told Reuters news agency that his three-week-old nephew, Mohammed, died in the fire. The baby’s mother, Ramata Gueye, also died during childbirth.
Mustafa Cisse, who said that the parents had been trying to have a baby for seven years and that Muhammad was their only child, said, “My brother, who lost his babies after his wife, was devastated. I can’t look into my brother’s eyes. I don’t know if it’s fate or Senegal’s hospitals. We have to ask the government about this.”
‘I didn’t tell my daughter at night’
A woman named Ndeye Absa Gueye said that she heard the news of the fire at night but did not tell her daughter, adding, “In the morning we received the news that her baby had died.”
The French news agency AFP, citing local media, reported that the hospital had just been put into service.
Health Minister Sarr received the news of the fire at a World Health Organization meeting in Geneva, Switzerland. Sarr, who returned to his country after interrupting the visit, said: “It is a very unfortunate, very painful event.” Sarr was later removed from his post by President Macky Sall.
Many observers point out that Senegal has one of the best health systems in the region, but is experiencing staff, infrastructure, equipment and financial resource problems.
Disasters came one after another
Opposition MP Mamadou Lamine Diallo tweeted: “Another baby burned to death in a public hospital. This is unacceptable.”
In Senegal, four babies died in a fire in the neonatal unit of a hospital in the city of Linguere last year. It was announced that this fire was caused by an electrical contact.
The discovery that a baby who was taken to the morgue last month thinking he was dead later died caused outrage in the country.
Recently, the death of a woman and her baby who had 20 hours of labor and whose request for a caesarean section was rejected caused great anger.