Concerns raised over high number of births by teen moms
The Department of Health said it was a 'concern' that 100 teens as young as 13 had given birth.
While the country welcomed more than 1 000 newborn babies over the Christmas and New Year period, many of these babies will brace a grim future.
The health department congratulated the first parents of the year, following 509 babies born in health facilities across the country on New Year’s Day.
The department said 250 girls’ and 259 boys’ births were recorded between midnight and midday on the first day of 2023.
Gauteng public healthcare facilities recorded 167 babies on New Year’s Day. Gauteng MEC for health and wellness Nomantu Nkomo-Ralehoko visited the Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital where 37 babies were born.
Tembisa Hospital recorded the most births with 44 babies, while Dr George Mukhari Academic Hospital, Thelle Mogoerane Regional Hospital, Dr Yusuf Dadoo Hospital also recorded births. The Far East Rand Hospital recorded two pairs of twins.
But department of health spokesperson Foster Mohale said it was a “concern” that 100 teens as young as 13 had given birth.
Democratic Alliance Gauteng shadow health MEC Jack Bloom said a baby was always a blessing, but also expressed concern.
“I am concerned about the rise in teenage mothers because one would like babies to be born into stable two-parent families where parents are employed,” he said.
Bloom said there was a fatherhood crisis.
“Where are the fathers? It’s not just teenage single mothers, there are also older women single parents. We have to ensure the conditions these babies grow up in because there is a problem with teenage mothers, abandoned babies, absconded fathers and unemployment,” he said.
The founder of Krugersdorp’s Cradle of Hope shelter for abused women and children, Melodie van Brakel, said the new year birth statistics do not include the babies born unrecorded at homes in mainly informal settlements.
“There is very little, if any record of these births. Many of the mothers of these babies are young teenage girls.
“The birth rate in South Africa is particularly high due to the low levels of the use of modern contraceptives and the high levels of adolescent childbearing,” she said.
Van Brakel said while the birth of a new life should always be seen as a blessing, it was the unfortunate truth that many of these babies were facing a grim life of growing up with a single mother.
She would often be unemployed or else earning a minimum wage, and struggling daily to make ends meet.
“Every week is the same, struggling to survive, to find a job and care for their children, needing basic food, clothing, shelter, diapers, electricity, water,” she said.
“At The Cradle of Hope we are flooded with pleas for assistance, especially from good mothers just really wanting the best for their children – struggling mothers.
“The reality is that with high unemployment, gender violence and the failure of the government to supply rapid and adequate support and the critically required resources, [more births] is just another sad story,” she said.