After the death of eleven newborns in a clinic in Tunis, the Tunisian health minister has resigned. Prime Minister Youssef Chahed wrote on Saturday (local time) on his Facebook page that he had accepted the resignation of Minister AbderraoufCherif. The babies died on Thursday and Friday at the state maternity clinic La Rabta.
The cause was a blood poisoning, possibly triggered by an artificial nutritional preparation. Prime Minister Chahed visited the hospital on Saturday night, where, according to the Tunisian Society for Pediatrics, 15,000 children are born each year. He announced that he would hold all responsible persons accountable for their omissions. In the coming week, there will be meetings with representatives of all sectors of the health service, said Chahed in a video that published his office. All existing problems should be evaluated.
The deaths in the state hospital had caused a shock and outrage among the Tunisian public. The daily newspaper Essafa wrote in its Sunday issue of a “state crime.” Pictures showed parents leaving the hospital building and carrying the bodies of their children in cardboard boxes.
A statement by the Tunisian Ministry of Health on Saturday night said that the newborns had probably died from a septic shock as a result of blood poisoning. The Tunisian Pediatrics Association said on their Facebook page that the investigation is currently focusing on an artificial nutritional supplement as the cause of the infection.
The chairman of the company, Mohamed Douagi, had already pointed out a few months ago abuses in the hospital La Rabta. He accused the government of wanting to save money in the “dying” health care sector. Tunisia’s health system was once considered exemplary but has long struggled with leadership and funding issues. Many physicians move abroad because they hope for better working conditions there.