Kwenzekile Myende and her New Year's Day baby, Owami, are congratulated by MEC Dhlomo, acting HOD Dr Musa Gumede and councillors Thabani Dube and Sizwe Ngcobo from Umzumbe Municipality. Photo: Supplied

Durban - KwaZulu-Natal had already welcomed 36 New Year's Day babies by 8am, the province's health MEC said on Tuesday. 

Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo made the announcement at GJ Crookes Hospital in Scottburgh. The province had welcomed 17 boys and 19 girls, he said. 

30-year-old Bongiwe Mlotshwa was the first to give birth to a daughter at the stroke of midnight at Eshowe Hospital, said Dhlomo. 

"At Addington Hospital, 24-year-old Sindisiwe Gumede gave birth to a set of boy twins. The two youngest mothers of New Year’s Day babies are aged 16, and gave birth at Ekhombe and Edendale Hospitals. There are also three mothers aged 18 who gave birth at Rietvlei, St Apollinaris and Emmaus hospitals; and another three aged 19, whose babies were born at Nkandla, St Apollinaris and Edendale hospitals. The oldest mother of the New Year’s Day babies in the province is aged 43, and gave birth at Edendale Hospital," said Dhlomo. 

He said that although GJ Crookes Hospital was concerned by the rate of teenage pregnancies in its catchment area, the department had developed a programme of community dialogues to heighten awareness about the benefits of abstinence, protected sex and the dangers of teenage pregnancy.

“Significantly, teenage pregnancy accounts for about eight to 10% of all deliveries in the country, which is about a million deliveries per year. But close to 45% of maternal deaths in the country come from this small 10%, because these young people generally delay coming to our clinics. They hide the pregnancy, and by the time they come to deliver, there are certain complications that cannot be reversed. Therefore, if we were to reduce or eradicate teenage pregnancy, we would significantly improve the maternal health outcomes of the province,” said Dhlomo. 

African News Agency (ANA)