By Olfa Andolsi.
Tunis, 15 July 2015:
Pregnant woman in Ghat are having to travel 360 km to Obari to have their babies because the town’s maternity clinic is shut with no doctors, irregular power and only one working neonatal incubator.
They have mounted an angry demonstration in the town protesting that mothers and babies were dying for lack of proper care.
Last December, the Presidency Council (PC) pledged to tackle the crisis, ear-marking LD 1.5 million of emergency funding.. This week PC head Faiez Serraj was in the town to explain to angry locals why nothing has so far happened. He renewed the assurances to Tuareg tribal leaders and the municipal council that living conditions would be improved throughout the region.
Ghat hospital caters for some 30,000 people in and around the town. The hospital administration put out a statement admitting: “There is currently no obstetrician and we do not have a doctor to care for the newborn and most of the maternity unit is not functioning because of the intermittent power supply. We cannot take any maternity patients”.
The nearest hospital to Ghat is at Al-Awinat 124 km away but it too reports that its maternity clinic is in no better shape. Therefore women seeking pre-natal treatment or about to give birth are forced to make the 360km drive to Obari, where where some maternity services are available.
Serraj was told the town’s hospital required basic medical supplies and new equipment (three of the maternity unit’s four incubators do not work, even with power) as well as ambulances. No less importantly, the hospital needed qualified doctors and nurses.