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Compiled by Vhahangwele Nemakonde

Digital Deputy News Editor

Tembisa Hospital records increase in baby deaths despite lower number of deliveries

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

Despite a lower number of deliveries, baby deaths have increased in the last three years at the Tembisa Hospital.

This was revealed by Gauteng Health MEC Nomantu Nkomo-Ralehoko in a written reply to DA Gauteng Shadow Health MEC Jack Bloom at the provincial legislature on Tuesday.

According to Nkomo-Ralehoko, Tembisa Hospital recorded 280 deaths in 2022, up from 271 deaths in 2021, and 237 deaths in 2020.

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

A total of 50,661 babies were born at the hospital in this period (17,122 in 2020, 17,054 in 2021, and 16,485 in 2022).

The causes given for the 788 baby deaths are infections, immaturity related, hypoxia (lack of oxygen) and congenital anomalies.

In a statement on Wednesday, the DA said it was concerned about the rise in infections in babies.

“This is a disturbing upward trend in deaths from causes that could probably have been avoided with better care,” said Bloom.

The department said there were no “definitive” cases of negligence established, but admitted to “an issue of resource constraints due to issue of overwhelming number of patients.”

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

“As in the case of baby deaths at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, they seem to be in denial that many babies could have been saved if there were adequate staff and equipment,” said Bloom.

Baby deaths at Chris Hani Hospital

In March, 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 at the time.

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