Hospitals under scrutiny after baby deaths

A team from the Gauteng health department was sent to the Natalspruit Hospital on Thursday after reports that a three-month-old baby died in a queue, a spokesperson said.

“A team was sent to the [East Rand] hospital early this morning to ascertain what exactly happened, and to check if these reports are actually true,” spokesperson Simon Zwane said.

“The team was sent after we heard radio reports that the child died in the queue ... it will investigate the child’s ailments, compare doctors’ notes to the mother’s claims, and if samples are still available we will look at those.

“It is only then that we can decide on the course of action.”

The child, Moosa Jacob, was taken to the hospital on Wednesday morning.

His mother, Mhiki, told Talk Radio 702 that the infant displayed symptoms of diarrhoea from Monday. She said she had taken him to the hospital twice, but on Wednesday morning the infant died in her arms.

She said they received medication from a doctor at the hospital on Monday night.

“They did not check my baby, they just gave me Panado,” she said.

The parents claimed they returned to the hospital at about midnight on Tuesday, where they waited almost three hours to be attended to.

The baby’s father, Yusuf, said had a proper diagnosis been carried out, their child might still be alive.

Neonatal ward overcrowded
Meanwhile, Zwane said 35 babies had been moved to a new ward at the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic hospital, where six babies died of diarrhoea on Tuesday.

This was after it was confirmed that the neonatal ward was overcrowded.

There were 50 babies in the ward for premature babies weighing less than 1kg—15 more than the prescribed maximum, provincial health minister Qedani Mahlangu told reporters in Johannesburg on Wednesday.

The baby who was the first to get diarrhoea was still alive and doing well.

Results of preliminary tests to establish what had caused the sickness were still not available.

Tests were being done to see whether the infants’ food or water had been contaminated, as well as blood tests to establish what had caused the diarrhoea.

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 or wash their hands.

Zwane could not confirm reports that 20 more children died.

“That’s just speculation,” he said.—Sapa

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