2 minute read
4 Jun 2014
9:00 am

Dead babies tell no ‘good story’


The deaths of several babies in two state hospitals in the past few days once again highlights the crisis bedevilling our public healthcare.

Many South Africans are still being failed by the system in which severe doctor shortages has resulted in overburdened doctors having to attend to hundreds of patients a day. Constant shortages of life-saving medicine are threatening patients’ lives and widespread administration bungles are a constant threat to the very lives these institutions have to save.

Last month, nine babies died at the Maphutha Malatji Hospital in Namakgale, Limpopo. The Sowetan reported most of the babies died because they were premature and the hospital allegedly did not have medication for them. Cockroaches reportedly infested the ward for premature babies; no sanitisers were available for mothers to use before handling babies; there was a shortage of milk formula and mothers had to buy their own nappies.

Just yesterday a newborn baby died because Itireleng Clinic in Dobsonville, Soweto, had no electricity for the oxygen machine. According to the DA’s Jack Bloom, three babies were recently born just outside the clinic – two were born in the parking area and another in front of the gate.

Twenty years into our democracy, newspapers daily publish chilling stories of the terrible conditions poor South Africans have to endure. Residents in many parts of the country still have to embark on

violent protests demanding basic services, such as clean running water.

In Bloemhof, North West, three babies recently died after contracting diarrhoea. The provincial government has since put the blame squarely on the shoulders of the local municipality after revelations that the babies died after they drank contaminated water.

The municipal manager has been suspended on charges of dereliction of duty and negligence. While this prompt action is welcome, it is cold comfort to the families of the dead babies, whose right to safe water was compromised by reckless and non-caring bureaucrats.

The ANC-led government’s “good story” will be hard to sell in the wake of a healthcare disaster that conti-nues to claim lives – and millions still trapped in abject poverty.