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SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, April 25) - Two more new-born babies died at the Colonial War Memorial Hospital's maternity unit two weeks ago because there was no ventilation machine to help them breathe.

This has taken the number of infant deaths to seven since January.

A gynaecologist who did not want to be named said the maternity unit management had temporarily closed the Neo-Natal Intensive Care unit because the machines in the room could not be used.

"It is really dangerous because the new-born babies who have difficulty breathing and other problems cannot be helped," he said.

He said premature or newborn babies who had breathing problems; heart and lung diseases were kept under observation in the room from birth until they were well enough to leave hospital.

He said tubes for the ventilation machines needed to be replaced and it had been a problem since last month but the unit was closed only two weeks ago. It is believed there are seven ventilators in the maternity hospital, most of which need new components.

He said newborn babies with such problems were now transferred to another unit with no machines and only the strongest survived. The two latest infant deaths were caused by the new system.

There are six infants under observation in the new unit. He said not only premature babies were taken to the new unit. All babies with complications were taken there.

"Some of the cases have to be taken to Lautoka because they have working machines.

"Those who can afford it, take their wives overseas for birth," the doctor said.

Last week Fiji College of General Practitioner vice president Wahid Khan said these kinds of things happened because the machine was overused.

"There has been so many births that this kind of things happen and there has been no rest," he said.

[According to Fijilive, Health Ministry chief executive Lepani Waqatakirewa has denied claims that two babies died in a Suva because there were no ventilation machines.

Waqatakirewa said the babies had died because of other complications and some were premature. He denied it was because of the unavailability of ventilators at the Colonial War Memorial Hospital. He said they had closed the Neo-Natal Intensive Care unit to make repairs and other adjustments. ]

April 26, 2005

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