The number of cases reported at primary healthcare level during the most recent surge season was the lowest in five years. File picture.
Cape Town - The number of cases reported at primary healthcare level during the most recent surge season was the lowest in five years, said the City of Cape Town on Wednesday.

This comes after the City finalised the data for the most recent ‘Surge Season’, which is the period between November and Maywhich coincides with an increase in diarrhoea and pneumonia cases.

Surge season data tracks cases of diarrhoea, pneumonia and severe acute malnutrition in young children. These cases can have dire consequences for young patients, if not diagnosed timeously and treated effectively. 

The Surge Season Team was created to prevent poor outcomes and includes City Health Primary Care and Environmental Health.

Data for the 2018/19 surge season indicate a 13% drop in the number of diarrhoea cases reported compared to 2017/18 – the lowest compared to the previous five years, with an 18% drop in the number of cases that required hospital admission.

Reported pneumonia cases have risen slightly to 12 045 but hospital admissions have remained stagnant. There was a 5% decline in Severe Acute Malnutrition cases reported.

"Diarrhoea, pneumonia and malnutrition are among the biggest health risks to young children in the developing world, even though these are not only treatable, but preventable. The statistical trends show progress in some areas, but also point to areas where more work is required.

"There are massive efforts behind the scenes to protect children from illness and disease. On diarrhoea alone, there is a lot of collaboration between primary health care, environmental health, hospitals, and communities. We have also engaged traditional healers to help raise awareness about health risks and appropriate treatment," said Mayco Member for Community Services and Health, Zahid Badroodien.

The City of Cape Town’s clinics are able to diagnose and treat diarrhoea, pneumonia, malnutrition and a host of other ailments affecting children.

The facilities also provide Basic Antenatal Care to expectant moms, to ensure the baby’s health while still in the womb; promote breastfeeding as a means to improving the health of babies and reduce the risk of illness; and provide advice and guidance on nutrition, the lack of which plays a role in diarrhoea and malnutrition.

"We speak often about the various interventions available to promote health and prevent disease, but the importance of these interventions and services is amplified when viewed in the context of the thousands of children who are treated, and even hospitalised for illnesses like diarrhoea, which may have lasting effects on their long term health and well-being," Badroodien said.

"My appeal to parents and communities at large is to take advantage of the services available to safeguard their children, but also to seek help at their local clinic if they’re not sure. It is better to be safe than sorry. Also, with many of our clinics now using appointment systems, visits are shorter than before – yet another way in which we are trying to make life easier for caregivers and improve the health of our communities."

Cape Argus