Health - Tunisia Probes Newborn Deaths
The Health Minister of Tunisia in North Africa has stepped down following the deaths of eleven newborn babies at a state maternity hospital in the capital Tunis.
Prime Minister Youssef Chahed accepted the resignation of Abdel-Raouf El-Sherif and ordered an investigation into the Rabta hospital's medical, pharmaceutical, and hygiene practices after the health ministry announced the deaths at on Thursday and Friday. Preliminary findings revealed that the deaths were "likely caused by septic shock resulting from blood infections" which were the results of some sort of contamination of an intravenous feeding product.
It's a blow to the image of Tunisia's health care system, which is widely considered to be the best in North Africa. Medical tourism is a source of considerable revenue for the country.
But, Tunisians have complained about a decline of state services since the overthrow of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in 2011, the beginning of the so-called "Arab Spring". It's the only country where a popular uprising has brought a democratic transition, but it also threw the country into an economic crisis. The health care system has been saddled with management and financial problems, along with recurrent drug shortages.