Tunisia probes deaths of 11 babies, health minister resigns

Preliminary findings revealed that the deaths were 'likely caused by septic shock resulting from blood infections'.

    Tunisia's health minister Abdel-Raouf El-Sherif has resigned following multiple investigations launched into the sudden deaths of 11 newborns at a state maternity hospital in the capital.

    Prime Minister Youssef Chahed accepted El-Sherif's resignation, according to official news agency TAP, after the health ministry said 11 newborns were reported dead on Thursday and Friday at Rabta hospital in Tunis.

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    Chahed has ordered an investigation into the deaths and vowed to hold those responsible accountable.

    Preliminary findings revealed that the deaths were "likely caused by septic shock resulting from blood infections", the ministry said.

    The Tunisian prosecutor's office has also ordered the opening of a judicial investigation into the deaths.

    The public health system in Tunisia has been hit by management and financial problems that lowered standards and caused drug shortages.

    Tunisians have complained about a decline of state services since the overthrow of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in 2011 which has brought a democratic transition but also thrown the country into an economic crisis.

    SOURCE: News agencies