Nurses look after babies inside the maternity ward of a hospital. For illustrative purposes only Image Credit: Reuters

Manama: Tunisia’s health minister has resigned following the death of 11 babies at a maternity hospital in two days.

Prime Minister Youssef Chahed said that he accepted the resignation of Abdul Raouf Cherif who was given the health portfolio late last year in a cabinet reshuffle.

A government official said the minister handed in his resignation to the prime minister at an impromptu meeting on Saturday evening.

The babies died at the state-run Rabta hospital in the capital Tunis on Friday and Saturday

Chahed who made a visit to the hospital late on Saturday said that an investigation had been launched and pledged that those named in the report would be held accountable.

A report from the health ministry said the babies died from septic shock.

Radio stations reported that the prosecutor on Saturday evening questioned the head and staff of the section tasked with providing care for the babies as family members gathered outside the hospital seeking answers for the death of their babies.

An opposition party called for the resignation of the government, citing its inability to run one of the most critical sectors in the North African country.

Other parties called for a thorough probe while the country’s main trade union stressed the need to improve working conditions in the healthcare sector.

Tunisia had built a strong reputation for outstanding healthcare services, becoming a medical and wellness tourism destination.

However, the situation deteriorated in the last eight years as the sector became plagued with social and professional problems.