By Joseph Kingston, Calabar
A colony of ants reportedly ate up two of the premature triplets delivered by an unnamed woman in Obubra local government area of Cross River state last week. Also, the father of the babies was accused of deliberately holding on to monies donated by good-spirited individuals for the children’s medical care.
Unconfirmed reports say the premature triplets were delivered at a primary health center in Obubra local government area and, thereafter, referred to Holy Family Catholic Hospital in Ikom local government area for good medical care.
The couple, whose names could not be ascertained as at press time, were said to have claimed difficulty in catering for and paying for medical care of the set of triplets. Government agencies had been contacted when the babies were born and the director general of the Cross River State Primary Health Care Development Agency, Dr Betta Edu, stepped in to help.
Accordingly, Edu provided a generator and fuel to run the incubator for the three babies, made provision for food and cloths as well as gave financial assistance.
Along the line, two of the babies were allegedly neglected such that ants got into incubators, leading to their death. This could not be independently verified as efforts to reach the hospital management was abortive neither could the remote and immediate causes of the babies’ deaths be established as at press time.
However, the director general, who regretted the sad incident, said “the babies were safely delivered at a primary health centre and referred to the next level of care because they were born premature. This was a private hospital with an incubator. We brought and fuelled a generator at the hospital, donated items like baby food amongst other things just to sustain the babies while medical care was being provided by the private hospital.
“We got several persons to make donations to the father of the child to further sustain the children and pay bills at the private hospital. Unfortunately, the father never brought out any of those monies to support their stay at the hospital.”
Speaking on allegation of neglect, Dr Edu said “we have not been able to establish that yet. We are carrying out an investigation to ascertain the cause of death of the two babies, but we have asked the hospital to refer them to the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital in Calabar.
“We will also impress on the father, who is holding unto the donated funds and have refused to support their welfare, to do so. We hope the premature baby left survives and the mother continues in good health.
“It is rather sad that despite all the effort put, we lost two of them. Our heart and condolences go to the family. This is again adding to the already high infant mortality rate in Nigeria. We are hopeful that the declaration of the maternal and child health emergency in Nigeria by the NPHCDA will help us tackle more of this situation. This was clearly beyond primary level of care.”