Babies’ deaths decline in Sebokeng

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iol news pic baby hospital Independent Newspapers Professor Joy Lawn has highlighted the underlying conditions responsible for 75 percent of infant deaths each year. File photo: Neo Ntsoma

Vereeniging - Babies' deaths at Sebokeng Hospital in Vereeniging have declined by 25 percent over two years, the Gauteng health department said on Friday.

“The department acknowledges that the death of even one child is a matter of great concern; however, there has been a 25 percent decline in the number of babies dying at this hospital since 2010,” spokesman Simon Zwane said.

He said in 2010 there were 216 deaths compared to 161 in 2011, and 158 deaths in 2012.

“This means that there was a 25 percent decline between 2010 and 2011 and a further two percent decline in 2012.”

Zwane was reacting to the Democratic Alliance's complaint on Thursday that 158 babies died at Sebokeng between January and November 2012.

DA MPL Jack Bloom said according to a reply from Health MEC Hope Papo, 80 babies died related to being premature, 56 of neonatal sepsis, 16 by birth asphyxia and six by congenital abnormalities.

Bloom said no disciplinary action has been taken in connection with any of the deaths.

“Concerned staff at the hospital say that some of these deaths could have been avoided with better care.”

Some doctors at the maternity unit were allegedly doing private work when they should have been at the hospital assisting births, Bloom said.

Zwane said the decline was attributed to a number of interventions that the department had implemented to improve the survival rate of young babies.

He said basic antenatal care training, a World Health Organisation strategy, was conducted in all districts last year to upgrade the skills of nurses.

The programme aims to ensure that all women receive focused antenatal care visits. It also emphasises routine care such as nutrition, safe sex and referral of women with high risk pregnancies.

Zwane said to improve care during labour, training on use of the partogram (for recording and monitoring data during labour) and neonatal resuscitation was conducted for 295 doctors and 1010 nurses throughout the province.

Kangaroo mother care units (where there is skin-to-skin contact between mother and baby) were also established in 23 hospitals, with Sebokeng Hospital being the first to offer this service.

He said the department would continue to implement measures to reduce the number of babies dying in the province.

“This will include a campaign to encourage mothers to book antenatal visits within 12 weeks of pregnancy, accompaniment of doctors by consultants during ward rounds, and the recruitment of suitably qualified doctors and nurses,” Zwane said. - Sapa

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