Cuba Investigates the Deaths of Eight Premature Babies at the Diez de Octubre Hospital in Havana

The deaths occurred starting January 11, that is, in just five days. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 17 January 2023 — Eight premature and low-weight babies have died so far in January at the Diez de Octubre Gynecological and Obstetric Hospital in Havana, the Ministry of Public Health reported on Monday.

Four of these newborn children died “since this past January 11th with presumptive signs of sepsis and the rest, of other causes related to the delicate state of their health,” according to the note released by the official press.

The Ministry assures that, in the hospital where the deaths were registered, “measures have been adopted to deal with this situation, and that it has the necessary resources to care for newborns,” although it has not specified what those resources consist of.

The Ministry assures that “measures have been adopted to deal with this situation, and that the necessary resources are available to care for newborns”, although it has not specified what they consist of

He also noted that a National Health Commission is currently investigating the causes of deaths and “based on the results, the pertinent measures will be taken.”

The event took place a few days after Cuba’s infant mortality data was released, which is bad again. The rate recovered only one tenth, compared to the very bad data for 2021, which was 7.6 deaths per 100,000, and stood at 7.5 in the year just ended.

The worsening of the infant mortality rate has been fast. Cuba exhibited some of the best data on the American continent until 2020, when the rate was 4.9 per 100,000, although the best figures come from 2017 and 2018, when it was only 4.0.

Compared to those years, the rate increased by 92% in 2021, when the authorities attributed the data mostly to the pandemic, both due to direct and collateral effects.

In addition, some provinces have data that is at the level of some countries such as El Salvador or Mexico. This is the case of Mayabeque, with 12.2 deaths per 100,000 births, Santiago de Cuba with 9.9, Guantánamo with 9.7, Havana with 9.5 and Camagüey, with 9.1.

The main causes of deaths have been perinatal conditions, mainly related to low birth weight, prematurity and intrauterine growth retardation, in addition to congenital malformations and sepsis.

Some doctors have warned that PAMI has lost priority over the years, partly due to the drop in funds allocated to it, but also due to the loss of many professionals

Some doctors have warned that the Maternal and Child Care Program (PAMI) has lost priority over the years, partly due to the drop in funds allocated to it, but also due to the loss of many medical professionals, who have been leaving medicine in recent years due to low wages and high work demands.

In 2021, two babies died in Guantánamo and two had to be admitted in critical condition after receiving treatment with Ampicillin in the neonatology service of the Dr. Agostinho Neto General Teaching Hospital.

In December 2021 there was also a case similar to the one now in Diez de Octubre, when two newborns died at a Havana hospital “despite receiving the maximum care,” according to the Havana Tribune. Although a report on what happened was announced, its contents did not change public opinion.

The news has generated a multitude of reactions among the readers of the official press, which call attention to the precariousness of the National Health System. Some of them point to the general malnutrition of the population, but also the lack of sterilization in hospitals and the shortage of medicines.

Translated by Norma Whiting


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