Avatar photo

By Citizen Reporter


Close to 2,000 infants died at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in the past three years

The hospital recorded 564 infant deaths in 2020, 660 in 2021 and 600 in 2022.

Health Minister Joe Phaahla has revealed that 1824 infants died at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital between 2020 and February 2023.

Phaahla revealed this in a written reply to Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) MP Naledi Chirwa’s questions in parliament.

Chirwa had asked the minister:

  • The infant mortality rate at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital in each of the past three years;
  • The number of healthcare workers in the same department that have since been employed at the specified hospital;
  • The number of obstetrics ambulances have been procured to date at the hospital;
  • Plans that are in place to ensure that infant mortality due to negligence, lack of healthcare professional personnel is avoided and reduced;
  • The targets the department set in this regard in the past year;
  • The number of the specified targets that have been achieved.

Phaahla further clarified that the provision of ambulances was the responsibility of Gauteng EMS, not the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, adding that Gauteng EMS did not have dedicated obstetric ambulances as all ambulances are equipped to treat and transport all emergencies including obstetric cases.

ALSO READ: DA calls for probe into baby deaths

“Gauteng EMS is piloting the Gauteng Scheduled Emergency Transport (G-SET) which is a scheduled transport system between high call volume facilities like CHBAH. We are encouraged by the improved response times and plan to expand G-SET during the new financial year subject to recruitment of additional staff,” Phaahla said.

Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital action plans

Phaahla said the action plan includes having monitoring and evaluation teams that monitor perinatal mortality data using the Perinatal Problem Identification Program (PPIP) to exclude avoidable deaths.

“Facility management must ensure that all delivering institution discuss every death within 7 days, report on PPIP, develop and follow up on implementation of Quality Improvement Plans (QIP),” said Phaahla.

Junior staff must also be provided technical support and onsite corrective measures.

ALSO READ: Possible link between baby formula, deaths in Joburg hospital

“The Department of Health reached the sustainable development goal set target of <12/1 000live births by 2030 for newborn nationally which is part of the infant mortality rate. The Department is therefore striving to sustain the performance not to regress below the current achievement, however, the Infant Mortality Rate sustainable development goal which is also the Departmental goal is set at 20/1 000 live births by 2030,” said Phaahla.

Resistant bacterial infections in SA’s newborn babies

A study led by experts from the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) involving newborn babies revealed a prevalence of infections caused by multi-drug resistant bacteria in South African hospitals.

According to the six-year study, almost 38 000 cases of infection were diagnosed, with the average age of babies at the time of diagnosis of infection at 7 days.

This was the first national population-level analysis of invasive newborn infections in the local public health sector and involved babies younger than 28-days admitted between January 2014 and December 2019.

Around 70% of cases were caused by three bacterial pathogens, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Acinetobacter baumannii, and Staphylococcus aureus, none of which can be prevented by vaccines and a large proportion of which were resistant to antibiotics usually used to treat neonatal infections.

Two-thirds of cases were diagnosed in hospitals in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal provinces.

READ MORE: Alarming rates of drug-resistant bacterial infections in SA’s newborn babies

Additional reporting by Sipho Mabena

Read more on these topics

childbirth Dr Joe Phaahla Health Department

Access premium news and stories

Access to the top content, vouchers and other member only benefits