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Tunisia investigates death of 11 newborns in hospital

The entrance of the Wassila Bourguiba state maternity hospital in the Tunisian capital Tunis, at which 11 newborn babies died suddenly in its Rabta clinic, prompting a government probe into the incident, on 9 March 2019 [FETHI BELAID / AFP/Getty]
The entrance of the Wassila Bourguiba state maternity hospital in the Tunisian capital Tunis, at which 11 newborn babies died suddenly in its Rabta clinic, prompting a government probe into the incident, on 9 March 2019 [FETHI BELAID / AFP/Getty]

Tunisia’s public prosecution announced, Saturday, the launch of an investigation into the death of 11 newborn babies within 24 hours in a maternity hospital in the capital.

The initial results of the Health Ministry’s enquiry revealed that the deaths were caused by an intravenous infection that affected the bloodstream of the deceased babies while the source of this infection is still unknown.

Sufian Silliti, a spokesman for the Tunis court of first instance, stated that the public prosecutor’s office ordered Saturday the launching of an investigation on the death of the 11 newborn babies.

Silliti said in a statement to the official Tunisian news agency that the investigating judge went to the Obstetrics and Gynecology Department of La Rabta Hospital in Tunis, where the deaths occurred, accompanied by the prosecutor’s deputy, to determine the circumstances of the incident.

Silliti explained that all specificities related to the incident would be publicly communicated to the Tunisian people shortly.

Read: Tunisia’s health minister resigns after 11 babies die in hospital

The Tunisian Ministry of Health indicated in a statement Saturday that the preliminary results of the ministry’s ongoing official investigation proved that the deaths have resulted from infections that occurred in the victims’ bloodstream, which quickly led to a declination in blood flow.

The ministry’s statement also conveyed that several samples had been taken to determine the type and source of the infection, without providing further details.

The ministry’s investigation committee said that no other death incidents had been recorded within the past 24 hours in the Obstetrics and Gynecology Department of La Rabta Hospital and that the inquiry will be further extended to identify the parties responsible.

On Saturday, the Tunisian Ministry of Health launched an investigation into the death of these babies.

Government hospitals in Tunisia have been widely criticised for the decline in the level of health services, overcrowded departments, the long waiting periods for patients, and the chronic lack of medicines.

According to critics, the hospitals in Tunisia also suffer from the lack of specialists and poor infrastructure.

A few months ago, the National Council of Tunisian Physicians reported that about 630 doctors had left Tunisia in the first half of 2018, estimating that 900 others were expected to leave in 2019.

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