Senegalese President Macky Sall on Thursday fired his Health Minister, Abdoulaye Diouf Sarr, after newborn babies were killed by a fire in a hospital, reported Reuters.
The authorities reported that at least eleven newborn babies died in a hospital fire blamed on an electrical short circuit in the western city of Tivaouane.
President Macky Sall announced the tragedy on Twitter and declared three days of national mourning.
“I have just learned with pain and dismay about the deaths of 11 newborn babies in the fire at the neonatal department of the public hospital,” the Senegalese president wrote on Twitter.
“To their mothers and their families, I express my deepest sympathy,” he tweeted.
Mr Sarr has been replaced by Marie Khemesse Ngom Ndiaye, the ministry’s director-general.
President Sall declared three days of national mourning and also ordered an investigation into the tragedy. He is expected to visit Tivaouane on Saturday to meet the babies’ relatives.
World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus tweeted that he was beyond heartbroken with the news. He expressed his deepest condolences to the families of the babies who lost their lives.
The Senegalese Health Minister Sarr said an investigation is underway. The health minister had been in Geneva attending a meeting with the WHO,
The fire incident is the latest in a series of hospital deaths that have exposed the weaknesses of the nation’s healthcare system.
The deaths also have raised concerns about maternal and infant health in the West African nation known for having some of the best hospitals in the region.
A similar incident occurred in Linguère town last year when a fire broke out at a hospital’s maternity ward and four newborn babies were killed. It was reported that the fire erupted due to an electrical fault in the air conditioning unit of the maternity ward.