Senegalese President Macky Sall acknowledged on Friday the«obsolescence» Senegal’s health system and ordered an audit of neonatal services so that the public hospital is not “no longer a space for tragedy”, after the death of eleven babies in a fire. The Head of State made these statements to the press after going Friday at the end of the day to the public hospital in Tivaouane (west) where these eleven babies died on Wednesday evening, a new tragedy which caused grief and outrage in the country.
Visibly moved, Macky Sall said he had the “broken heart” after visiting the room where the babies lost their lives. “I ordered that all neonatal services be audited in their facilities (…) and equipment. The health system is marked by obsolescence.he said. “We are going to continue this modernization effort to see what is wrong” so that the hospital is not “no longer a space of despair or tragedy”. “I would like to call for responsibility and awareness so that everyone exercises their profession (…) with ethics”he launched.
The president said he ordered a mission from the General State Inspectorate “to look at the quality of infrastructure”. Before going to the hospital, Macky Sall had met the caliph of the Tidianes – one of the important Muslim brotherhoods which play an essential social role in Senegal – Serigne Babacar Sy Mansour, who had deplored several months ago the state of this hospital. Macky Sall specified that he would meet in the evening the families of the missing babies at the residence of the caliph. This drama is the latest to highlight the shortcomings of the health system of this poor country. The president dismissed Thursday evening his Minister of Health Abdoulaye Diouf Sarr, targeted by calls for the resignation.
Macky Sall also declared three days of national mourning. President-in-Office of the African Union, he cut short his stay in Equatorial Guinea to go to Tivaouane. What happened on Wednesday evening at the Mame Abdou Aziz Sy Dabakh hospital remains to be established. The testimonies report a fire spreading rapidly in the neonatal unit and helpless staff and users to save the children. An electrical short circuit is incriminated.
Accusations of negligence flew. But the mayor of the city assured that two caregivers were in the service at the time of the events. The new neonatology service, co-financed by a private company, was delivered at the end of 2021, with safety equipment and staff training in fire alerts, he said. But, in one year, it is at least the third event with the death of children in the public hospital to upset public opinion. Apart from calls for sanctions, it has aroused in part of the opinion accusations of passivity on the part of the authorities.
The Senegalese were moved by the death of four newborns in the fire of a neonatology department at Linguère hospital in April 2021, and the tragic fate of a pregnant woman, Astou Sokhna, who died with her baby. a year later after what his relatives describe as a long agony and denial of care at Louga hospital. His fate was “the straw that broke the camel’s back”, Nina Penda Faye, spokeswoman for Patients in Danger, told AFP. The collective, which was formed after the death of Astou Sokhna, received in 72 hours at least 500 testimonies from Senegalese on medical errors or cases of abuse.