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Tunisian health minister resigns following the deaths of multiple babies

Early investigations indicated the babies died due to an infection [NurPhoto]

Date of publication: 10 March, 2019

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Tunisia's health minister resigned on Saturday following the deaths of 11 newborn babies over the course of 24 hours at a state hospital in Tunis.

Tunisia's health minister Abdel-Raouf El-Sherif resigned on Saturday following the sudden deaths of 11 newborn babies at a state maternity hospital in the capital Tunis.

The minister had faced calls to resign following the babies' deaths over the course of 24 hours on Thursday and Friday at the Rapta clinic.

Investigations into the cause of the babies' death, likely due to an infection, have been launched by the health ministry and state prosecutors, state news agency TAP said.

The health ministry was conducting medical and hygiene checks, as well as investigating the management of the hospital pharmacy a spokesman told AFP.

A statement by the health ministry indicated the babies died of septic shock.

The investigations pointed to an infection caused by an intravenous feeding product, elaborated a statement by the Tunisian pediatrics society.

The deaths pointed to the "precarious conditions in which health professionals work," said the association.

"Preventive measures and treatment have been taken to avoid other victims and to ensure the health status of other babies in the maternity ward", the health ministry said in a statement.

Tunisians have complained of a deterioration in state services since the overthrow of Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali in 2011. Tunisia's revolution brought a democratic transition but the country has also witnessed an economic crisis.

The public health system has suffered management and financial problems that have lowered treatment standards and caused drug shortages.

Critics also say the public sector is rife with corruption.

 

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