Iraqi health officials sacked after Diwaniyah hospital fire kills four infants
Four infants died on Monday, 8 January, as a devastating fire ripped through a maternity ward in the southern Iraqi province of Diwaniyah. The Iraqi health ministry said tens of other children were rescued, indicating that the incident is under investigation.
Iraqi Health Minister Saleh Mehdi Al-Hasnawi, who visited Diwaniya's maternity hospital, said during a press conference that four babies died due to suffocation from the fire. He also announced the sacking of several provincial health officials and stressed that an investigation committee would conclude its findings within three days.
"Regrettably, four prematurely born infants in the neonatal intensive care unit lost their lives due to respiratory complications. In response to the tragedy, Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani took decisive action, ordering the dismissal of those found responsible for negligence," Al-Hasnawi was quoted by Iraq's News Agency (INA).
The Iraqi Red Crescent Society said 150 children and 190 adults were evacuated from the fire.
Iraq's hospitals have been worn down by decades of conflict, poor investment, corruption, and the lack of safety measures at all public facilities have exacerbated the casualties.
Sixty COVID-19 patients were killed in a blaze at the Al-Hussein in Nasiriyah, southern Iraq, in 2021. Nearly 100 people lost their lives, and more than 100 others were injured in September when a fire broke out at a wedding in Hamdaniyah, also known as Qaraqosh, the largest Christian town in Nineveh province.