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The Inkatha Freedom Party called for action on Tuesday after four babies died of treatable diseases at George Masebe Hospital, in Limpopo, reportedly because of a staff shortage.
The fatalities showed that the health system was a failure, and that health workers were negligent, said IFP health spokeswoman Hilda Msweli.
“When our caregivers no longer care, when children are left to die from treatable illnesses 1/8then 3/8 tragedies such as this one will unfold,” she said.
She called on provincial health MEC Norman Mabasa to bring to book those responsible for the deaths.
“(He must) take immediate corrective actions to ensure that tragedies like this do not occur again,” said Msweli.
Beeld newspaper reported that Mabasa was investigating.
“I want to know exactly how and when each child died. As we understand it, two died shortly after they arrived in the casualty unit, and the other two died after being admitted to the wards,” Mabasa told the newspaper.
The SABC reported that there was not only a shortage of doctors, but that the hospital's entire management contingent had been on leave.
Msweli said negligent doctors should be stripped of their practising licences.
“The hospital management must (also) be held accountable and disciplinary proceedings instituted immediately and those found responsible fired immediately,” she said.
Beeld reported that Mabasa had asked a commission of inquiry to report to him within a week, and had promised to take action if hospital personnel were found to have been negligent.
Meanwhile, the National Education, Health and Allied Workers' Union (Nehawu) said the hospital's staff should be held accountable for the infants' deaths.
Nehawu claimed the hospital was 75 percent full when the babies died, that there was only one doctor on duty, and that basic medical supplies and stocks had been depleted.
It also said three of the hospital's nine doctors resigned in December.
According to Mabasa, a 288-bed hospital like George Masebe should have 38 doctors, but it had only eight. - Sapa