Senegalese are mourning. An accidental fire destroyed the neonatal unit and led to the death of 11 babies at the public health centre in Tivaouane, western Senegal.
The death of 11 babies caused by a short circuit, according to initial reports, that ravaged the maternity hospital, has caused distress, anger and consternation among both the victim families and public opinion in Senegal. A frequent occurrence in the country, the Tivaoune tragedy has once again highlighted the shortcomings of the Senegalese health system.
“I have just learned with pain and consternation the death of 11 newborns in the fire at the neonatal department of the public hospital in Tivaouane, in western Senegal,” said President Macky Sall. “To their mothers and families, I express my deepest sympathy,” he added.
The fire, which occurred on 25 May at around 9pm (local time and GMT) according to witnesses, was caused by “a short circuit and the fire spread very quickly”, says the mayor, Demba Diop. He also reported that a number of babies had been rescued from the flames. But eleven did not survive.
This Thursday evening, on the main news programme of public television, the presidency announced that the Senegalese Minister of Health and Social Action, Abdoulaye Diouf Sarr, has been dismissed by a presidential decree. He is replaced by Marie Khemesse Ngom Ndiaye, until then Director General of Public Health.
The Head of State declared three days of national mourning. He will cut short his stay in Equatorial Guinea where he is chairing the extraordinary summit of the African Union on Friday and Saturday. Macky Sall announced his return to Dakar on Friday to visit the scene of the tragedy, according to his services.
This drama in Tivaouane is one more for the Senegalese. On 1 April 2022, Astou Sokhna, a woman in her thirties who was nine months pregnant, died in Louga public hospital after, according to her relatives, having waited in vain for the caesarean section she wanted to have, in great pain and for about twenty hours.
In this case, the director of the hospital was dismissed and three midwives were given six-month suspended sentences for failure to assist a person in danger. In April 2021, four newborns died in a fire in a maternity hospital in Linguère in the north of the country.