ZESCO has refuted claims by some members of the public and online publications that a number of babies died at the University Teaching Hospital (UTH) after the countrywide blackout on Thursday last week.
Both Zesco spokesperson Henry Kapata and UTH public relations manager, Mwenya Mulenga confirmed in separate interviews in Lusaka yesterday. Mr Kapata said it was not true that prematurely-born babies died at UTH after the countrywide power blackout.
On Thursday, due to a system disturbance that was caused by a tripping of a power line at Kariba North Bank Power Station around 23:00 hours, eight provinces suffered a blackout while two remained powered as the Victoria Falls Station continued supplying electricity.
On Friday, word went round, however, that babies born prematurely at UTH that depended on electricity-powered incubators died due to the power outage. “Contrary to online reports that some deaths were recorded at UTH, prematurely-born babies were not affected,” Mr Kapata said. He said this was because UTH quickly moved to alternative generators when the country experienced a power outage.
No patient lost their lives at the D Block for prematurely-born babies or the maternity ward. Mr Kapata said he was impressed that sensitive institutions like UTH had heeded the power company’s advice to have alternative power despite being exempted from load-shedding. He said Zesco encouraged sensitive institutions that despite exemptions from load-shedding, they should invest in alternative power sources.
Mr Kapata urged the sensitive institutions to test their generators constantly and not just in times of power outages. The UTH spokesperson said that no deaths were recorded because the UTH power generators automatically switched on whenever there was a power disruption. “It is not possible that we did not have power. The generator switches on automatically and we did not record any deaths due to the power outage. Those are false reports,” he said.