Cherol Bulose from KwaDabeka looks on as MEC Dhlomo holds her Christmas Day baby Thandolwethu, alongside (from left) Ethekwini District Director Ms Penny Msimango; acting Head of Department Dr Musa Gumede; Head of Ministry Mr Bheki Nzimande, sister Zoleka Ngobese and office manager Mr Linda Zondi. PHOTO: Supplied by KwaZulu Natal Department of Health.
KwaZulu-Natal - At least 50 babies were born in KwaZulu-Natal by 10 am on Christmas morning, the South African province's Health MEC (member of executive council) Sibongiseni Dhlomo 
said on Monday.

Dhlomo was speaking at King Edward VIII Hospital, where he also announced that 28 Christmas babies – 16 boys and 12 girls - had been born in the province by 7 am on Christmas morning.

"As at 10h00, the number had risen to 50 Christmas babies, with 26 girls and 24 boys making their Christmas Day arrival," the KwaZulu-Natal health department said.

The department said that Dhlomo and the acting head of department, Dr Musa Gumede, handed over gifts, which including baby clothes, nappies and blankets to four mothers and their Christmas Day babies.  

PHOTO: Supplied by KwaZulu Natal Department of Health
They added that Dhlomo expressed his concern that at King Edward VIII Hospital, one of the mothers had never attended an antenatal clinic, and had therefore not been booked to deliver.

“That is not a good story to tell because in this province we want to make sure that mothers deliver healthy babies. [Not attending antenatal clinics] makes the delivery very risky. Antenatal clinics should be a non-negotiable, because when we know your condition as a mother, when we detect any challenges early, even if you are HIV positive we can guarantee your safety and that of your baby,” said Dhlomo.

PHOTO: Supplied by KwaZulu Natal Department of Health.
He said it was worrying that three of the Christmas Day mothers, who gave birth at Murchison, Newcastle and Mahatma Gandhi hospitals, were 16-year-old girls.

“We are always concerned when young people fall pregnant at a young age because it is very unsafe. If you’re a young person under the age of 18, and you’re delivering a big baby, which does happen, chances of delivering safely are slim. It actually places the mother’s own life and the baby’s in danger.”

The MEC called on young people to either abstain from sex or use dual protection, which included a combination of condoms and female contraceptive methods in order to avoid unplanned or unwanted pregnancies.

Dhlomo also called on festive season revellers to consider donating blood.

A regular blood donor himself, MEC Dhlomo said: “I have been in contact with the South African National Blood Service, and they are saying that they have enough blood stocks to last two and a half days."

"We, therefore, wish to call on all South Africans, even if you are here on holiday, to make sure you donate a pint of blood. With so many people visiting our province, incidents may happen where people may end up needing blood. So, the blood that you donate could actually save lives. And that is the most precious contribution that you can make.”

African News Agency/ANA