MORE than 1000 healthy babies were born on Christmas Day at public health facilities across South Africa, Health Ministry spokesperson Popo Maja said yesterday.
Gauteng registered the highest number of babies with 301, with Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic hospital delivering 47 babies and Rahima Moosa Mother and Child hospital delivering 32 babies, including a set of twins. The gender split is 161 females and 140 males.
Another set of twins, included in the total number of babies, was born at Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital.
The second highest number of births, 275, was recorded in the Eastern Cape with 155 female babies and 113 male babies, 35 of whom were born through Caesarean section.
With only Free State not giving figures of gender, 713 of the babies in the other eight provinces were girls. Limpopo recorded 262 births with 138 girls and 124 boys and Western Cape had 138 babies, with 83 boys and 55 girls.
Mpumalanga delivered a total of 153 babies - 68 females and 85 males; KZN had a total of 106 - 63 boys and 43 girls; North West had 115 babies - 70 females and 45 males; Northern Cape delivered 55 Christmas babies - 29 males and 26 females; and Free State delivered 35.
However, the health ministry said it was still concerned by the teen pregnancies because of the significant number of maternal deaths among teenagers. “At that age a girl is simply just not ready to become a mother both physiologically and psychologically. We need to intensify our public education around reproductive health and the importance of family planning.”
The department also commended all health professionals for their dedication in saving lives during this festive season.
Speaking at Sebokeng hospital yesterday, Gauteng Health MEC Gwen Ramokgopa encouraged teenagers to use contraceptives and emphasised the importance of health education and that people must take the health, wellness and happiness campaign seriously. “I met a younger mother earlier today who was due to give birth and I encouraged her to go back to school after giving birth.
“Prevention is better than cure; younger mothers should wait until they are ready to have babies and should utilise our public health facilities for family planning at no cost.
“The birth of a baby brings joy in the family especially when a baby is born on such a joyful day. Take care of your babies and ensure that they receive all the necessary healthcare and nutrients to ensure that they grow healthy and strong,” concluded Ramokgopa.
In 2017, 389 babies were born in the province.
In the North West, 10 babies were born in the early hours of Christmas Day, the provincial health department said.
The first baby, a girl named Osego Mediwane, was born at Job Shimankana Tabane Hospital in Rustenburg.
She is also the first child born to 33-year-old Otshepeng Mediwane, who could not stop smiling as she looked at her miracle baby.
“This is my first child that I get to hold in my arms and it feels great. I lost many of my children who passed before this could happen.
“She is a miracle because she is the first to survive and she is born on Christmas Day,” Mediwane said.
Job Shimankana Tabane Hospital also saw the arrival of a set of twins who were born three minutes apart.
Their mother Onicca Monyepao said she was happy with her Christmas presents.
Baby boy Axole Mafuna was the fourth child delivered at the hospital to 23-year-old Nosphelo Mafuna.
By 9am on Tuesday, at least 45 babies were born in KZN.
The provincial health department said 24 boys and 21 were born at government health facilities across the province. “The first Christmas babies were born at Prince Mshiyeni Memorial Hospital (PMMH) in uMlazi and at Northdale Hospital in Pietermaritzburg,”.
“The youngest mother of the Christmas Day babies is aged 16, and gave birth to a baby boy at Queen Nandi Memorial Hospital in Empangeni,” a statement said
Health MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo on Tuesday lamented the number of teens who gave birth, saying more needed to be done to encourage abstinence and family planning among young people. “What worries us is a significant number of maternal deaths of teenagers,” said Dhlomo.
“We are also worried because some of these girls fear coming to hospital early. They hide the pregnancy until it is too late. We really want to encourage teenagers that please, if you have started engaging in sex, you must have precautions family planning is one of them.