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FACT CHECK: Did power outage result in death of 14 babies at UPTH?

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Over the weekend, social media was awash with a report that fourteen (14) babies in the neonatal unit of the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital (UPTH), Rivers State died as a result of an epileptic power supply.

Findings by TheNewsGuru.com (TNG) revealed that the report titled: “Doctors suspend surgery procedures as 14 babies die at UPTH’s incubator due to power outages” was first published by an online news platform called Standard Observers on July 1.

“I’m saddened. We lost those twins yesterday (June 29) because of power failure at the hospital. More than 14 babies have died at the incubator in the past weeks due to power failure”, the publication quoted a doctor to have said.

The publication also alleged that the mother of the said twins had been childless for the past seven years.

How True are these claims?

Reacting to the report, Special Envoy of the World Health on Organisation Ayoade Alakija, tweeted: “In any country this is a national tragedy and a clean out of ministers. A university teaching hospital is Federal responsibility. 14 babies DEAD! Because no NEPA, no diesel! Our social contract is gone”.

However, the UPTH issued a statement on July 3 to debunk the report which, it described as an attempt by certain persons to tarnish its image by spreading false messages and information that are inaccurate.

“We did not record any infant mortality as a result of our electrical power outage due to the faulty transformer. The standby generator serviced the hospital for that period, with all emergency areas fully powered.

“The management of UPTH frowns seriously at such scandalous social media propaganda that is damaging its image,” the hospital stated.

TNG investigations revealed that there has been prolonged power outage at the hospital in recent months and while the hospital has an alternative source of power as back up, it is only used a limited number of hours in the day.

Our sources informed us that due to the erratic power supply, babies in incubators were discharged and parents were asked to seek care elsewhere.

Nevertheless, two persons, Ada Chukwuokike and Erinma Ukonu claimed to know two of the affected families.

While Chukwuokike said she’s a family friend to one of the victims who had been childless for 10 years, Ukonu said “My town brother child die there too last week in their Incubator. It hurt a lot”.

VERDICT

MISLEADING: There is not enough evidence to prove that recent infant mortality at the hospital, where they exist, was caused by epileptic power outage. The report that 14 neonatal deaths occurred at the UPTH due to power outage is therefore misleading.

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