Tunisia minister says hospital infection killed 12 newborns

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Tunisian temporarily appointed health minister Sonia Ben Cheikh speaks during a press conference in the capital Tunis on March 11, 2019. (AFP)
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A photo taken March 11, 2019, shows students demonstrating in front of the Ministry of Health in Tunis, after a dozen newborn babies died as a result of nosocomial (hospital-acquired) infection. A dozen newborn babies whose deaths at a Tunisian state hospital sparked public outrage are believed to have been killed by an infection acquired in the clinic, the acting health minister said.(AFP)
Updated 11 March 2019
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Tunisia minister says hospital infection killed 12 newborns

  • “The whole health sector is in a state of emergency,” the minister said
  • PM vows that “those responsible for any negligence” will face prosecution

TUNIS: A dozen newborn babies whose deaths at a Tunisian state hospital sparked public outrage are believed to have been killed by an infection acquired in the clinic, the acting health minister said Monday.
Sonia Ben Cheikh told a news conference that a 12th infant had died at the Rabta state hospital in Tunis on Sunday.
According to the preliminary findings of the ongoing investigation, a nosocomial (hospital-acquired) infection caused the deaths, she said.
“The whole health sector is in a state of emergency,” she told a news conference.
Reforms were needed to restore confidence, added Ben Cheikh, whose predecessor resigned Saturday in the face of a growing outcry over the deaths.
Prime Minister Youssef Chahed swiftly vowed that “those responsible for any negligence” will face prosecution.
Officials launched medical and judicial investigations after the premature babies began dying on Thursday at the Rabta state hospital in Tunis.
The public health system, once a source of pride in Tunisia, has been hit by management and financial problems that lowered standards and caused drug shortages.


Warning to Turkish artists as singer is jailed for ‘insulting’ Erdogan

Updated 21 July 2019
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Warning to Turkish artists as singer is jailed for ‘insulting’ Erdogan

  • Actress and singer Zuhal Olcay was charged with insulting Erdogan using hand gestures at a concert in Istanbul in 2016
  • Turkey’s appeals court has upheld an 11-month sentence, originally imposed last year but suspended

ANKARA: Accusations of insulting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan may lead to a jail sentence — even if the “insult” is in private, analysts told Arab News on Saturday.

Turkey’s appeals court has upheld an 11-month sentence on actress and singer Zuhal Olcay, 61, after a complaint that she had changed lyrics of songs and used hand gestures to insult the president at a concert in Istanbul in 2016.

The revised lyrics said: “Recep Tayyip Erdogan, it’s all empty, it’s all a lie. Life will end one day and you’ll say ‘I had a dream’.” Olcay said she had changed the lyrics only because the president’s name fitted the rhyme.

The court confirmed a sentence originally imposed last year, which had been suspended. The singer is expected to spend up to three days in prison, before being released on probation.

“This case highlights the blurring of the public and private spheres.”

Louis Fishman Academic

“Zuhal Olcay is an artist with great stature, and this case shows that no one is out of reach of a judiciary that increasingly has little independence from the government,” Louis Fishman, an assistant professor at City University of New York, told Arab News.

“The message is clear; artists in Turkey should be silent or face legal consequences that can be drawn out for years and eventually lead to prison,” said Fishman, an expert on Turkey.

He said it was significant that the hand gesture at the center of the case had happened at a private concert, and the prosecution began only after it was reported to police by someone in the audience.

“Therefore, this case also highlights the blurring of the public and private spheres,” he said. 

“In other words, there is a growing fear in Turkey of criticizing, or ‘defaming’ Erdogan, not only in public, but also in private. In both cases, vigilant citizens can report such alleged cases to the police.”