Neonatal ward overcrowded at time of baby deaths

The neonatal ward of the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital was overcrowded when six babies died of diarrhoea, the Gauteng minister of health said on Wednesday.

Speaking at a media briefing in Johannesburg, Qedani Mahlangu said the neonatal ward, where premature babies with a weight of less than 1kg were kept, was caring for at least 50 babies while it should only have had a maximum of 35.

“It is not only a problem in this ward. Wards all over the province are overcrowded,” said Mahlangu.

She said five babies died on Tuesday after contracting diarrhoea over the weekend, while a sixth died late on Tuesday night.

The baby who was the first to get diarrhoea was still alive, she said.


The rest of the babies in the ward were being moved to another ward in the hospital. Both wards were being sterilised to house the infants.

Mahlangu said the results of the preliminary tests to establish what had caused the sickness were still not available.

However, it was suspected a disease might have been carried in by either mothers visiting the ward or health professionals who failed to wear sterilised clothing. — Sapa

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