Limpopo records more than 24 000 child deaths between 2013 and 2022

Limpopo has the fourth-highest number of child deaths of the nine provinces.

Limpopo recorded more than 24 000 child deaths between 2013 and 2022 and opposition parties are calling on the provincial health department to explain it.

A recent response to the Democratic Alliance’s (DA) parliamentary questions to Minister of Health Joe Phaahla indicated that the province recorded 24 744 child deaths in public health facilities over a 10-year period from 1 January, 2013 to December 2022.

The questions were raised by Michele Clarke, member of parliament and DA shadow minister of health, this year.

Limpopo, according to the report, has the fourth-highest number of child deaths of the nine provinces.

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The most common causes of child deaths nationally, according to the report, are diarrhoea and pneumonia and the most common underlying causes of child deaths are severe and moderate acute malnutrition.

Yesterday the provincial leadership of the DA in Limpopo wrote to health MEC Phophi Ramathuba asking for:

  • A breakdown of the reasons for child deaths in the province;
  • Most common causes of death and underlying causes of death in children in Limpopo;
  • How many of the child deaths were due to unnatural causes; and
  • How many medical negligence claims the department faces for child deaths, the nature of the claims and the potential cost to the department and the number of child deaths in public health facilities.

Yesterday, DA member of the Limpopo Legislature Risham Maharaj, who is also DA spokesperson on health, said the large number of deaths in children in the province was worrisome.

“This is evidence of a health system that is poorly man – aged, understaffed and underresourced,” he said.

Nationally, the report indicates a total of 178 445 children died a decade ago in public hospitals throughout the nine provinces.

Child deaths causes

Of the total children that died up to the age of five, 19 707 were due to pneumonia and diarrhoea, and 12 582 from moderate and severe acute malnutrition. The report also revealed that 12 224 children’s deaths between 2013 to 2018 were due to unnatural causes.

“The ANC government’s fever dream of the National Health Insurance Bill will not make a dent in addressing these issues,” said the DA.

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“This is because the ANC sees the myriad of problems plaguing the public health sector as an issue of funding when, in fact the problem, lies with management: management of funding, resources, staff, projects and processes, and of consequences.”

“The national and provincial departments of health have failed to adequately invest in, maintain and manage the public health sector, and instead of addressing the systemic issues by learning from successful private facilities, government decided to target them in their mad scheme.”

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The provincial health department was not available for comment.