Of all the victims of our often dysfunctional national health system, it is the babies who die unnecessarily which cause us the greatest anguish. It is always tragic when a child, which cannot defend itself, dies.
But it is doubly so when that tragedy could have been avoided, but for human incompetence, inefficiency or disdain.
So, the news that severe overcrowding and understaffing led to a hygiene crisis at a hospital in Vosloorus – which saw two babies die and five others becoming seriously infected by the klebisiella virus – makes us angry.
The baby deaths should have come as no surprise to the authorities, and in particular those running the hospital. Disgruntled staff warned months ago about the intolerable conditions in various wards there.
On the other hand, there is also clearly some more training which needs to be done, and supervision which needs to be implemented, of staff working with children … especially when it comes to disinfection procedures.
In this day and age, babies should not be dying in our hospitals. That they do should shames us all – but Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi must take ultimate responsibility, even though his department says the matter is an “internal” one in the hospital itself.