The National Department of Health has confirmed that South Africa has welcomed more than 1 700 babies delivered on Christmas Day across its public health facilities.
“The country’s public health facilities have safely delivered 1 708 healthy babies this year on Christmas Day, compared to 1 414 delivered in 2022. This number consists of 840 baby boys and 868 baby girls,” said spokesperson Foster Mohale.
Mohale said the first bundle of joy was a healthy girl who was welcomed at midnight at Galeshewe Day Hospital in the Northern Cape. Her birth was followed by that of a boy at Harry Gwala Regional Hospital in KwaZulu-Natal at 12.02am, then at Cecilia Makiwane Hospital at 12.03am and West End Community Health Centre at 12.04am, both in the Eastern Cape.
Mohale said almost 40% of the babies were born in Gauteng, followed by KwaZulu-Natal.
In a statement, Gauteng MEC of Health and Wellness Nomantu Nkomo-Ralehoko said 194 of the babies were born in Gauteng. She spent the day with three of the babies delivered at Sebokeng Regional Hospital in the Vaal.
She said her department would continue to prioritise and support mothers from indigent communities who were struggling with essential supplies for their newborns.
WATCH: Gauteng Health MEC Nomantu Nkomo-Ralehoko paid a special visit to babies born on Christmas day and was handing out hampers to the mothers and their bundles of joy at Sebokeng Hospital. #TheStarNewsPaper pic.twitter.com/RU60hzyXhf— The Star (@TheStar_news) December 25, 2023
“We have made a commitment as the Gauteng provincial department to ensure that our Township Informal Settlements and Hostels communities are prioritised in all government programmes. This gift pack, which include essentials such as nappies, wipes, burn creams, soap and bathtubs, will go a long way in the first days to a month of the babies lives,” she said.
The MEC said babies born on Christmas Day held a special place in the day’s celebrations, with Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital (22 babies) and Tembisa Hospital (16 babies) leading the charge.
Nkomo-Ralehoko said academic hospitals had the most deliveries at 41, followed by tertiary hospitals with 21. Regional and district hospitals delivered 81 babies and community health facilities 49.
The spokesperson for the department, Motalatale Modiba, said the province was yet to account for the number of teen moms who delivered their babies on Christmas.
“Please note that we don’t have the stats now readily available but will probably have those in January as part of the monthly report.
“However, in October 2023, the department recorded 1 543 babies born of teen moms and 1 574 in November 2023. So, this current financial year between April and November, a total of 13 718 babies born of teen moms were delivered across our facilities,” Modiba said.
According to OFM, maternity wards in the Free State reported that 15 babies – six boys and nine girls – were born between 12.01am and 6am on Monday.
In the province’s public health facilities, the maternity ward at Itemoheng District Hospital in Senekal delivered its first baby born on Christmas, at 12.35am.
Limpopo province welcomed 209 babies on Christmas Day.
Provincial MEC for Health Dr Phophi Ramathuba said she was concerned about the increase in the number of teenage mothers as more than 50 teens had given birth on Christmas Day.
“Out of the 209 deliveries … over Christmas Day, 106 being boys and 103 being girls, we were so excited because all the babies and their mothers are in good condition.
“However, when we had to register a number of 50 teenage mothers, while the majority of them are those who are 18 and 19, but we are worried about a sizeable number (of mothers) who are 16,” Ramathuba told Newzroom Afrika on Monday.
Nkomo-Ralehoko urged mothers to register their children immediately with the Department of Home Affairs and ensure that they were immunised.
“We would like to urge parents to ensure that their bundles of joy are immunised at regular ages as set out in the road to health booklet to protect them against diseases such as polio, tuberculosis, hepatitis, measles and meningitis,” she said.