In an oral reply in the Gauteng legislature on Tuesday, Gauteng health MEC Gwen Ramokgopa told the DA that eight state hospitals in Gauteng had recorded 120 cases of babies infected with necrotising enterocolitis (NEC) this year, but all of them survived.
NEC is a medical condition where a portion of the bowel dies, and typically occurs in newborns that are either premature or otherwise unwell.
In a statement, the DA’s Jack Bloom said Ramokgopa listed the causes as “multi-factorial” and “predisposing factors included premature birth and smoking during pregnancy”.
The following hospitals were affected, according to the MEC:
Rahima Moosa – 51 cases
Pholosong – still being verified
Chris Hani Baragwanath – 48 cases
Steve Biko – 9 cases
Kalafong – 1 case
Jubilee – 2 cases
Sebokeng – 1 case
Tambo Memorial – 8 cases
“According to Ramokgopa, there is a 30% fatality NEC fatality rate globally, and she praised staff who successfully saved the lives of NEC-infected babies,” said Bloom.
However, he said he was concerned that Ramokgopa did not confirm nine NEC deaths at the Rahima Moosa Hospital that were reported by the National Institute for Communicable Diseases earlier this year.
“It is very disturbing that Rahima Moosa Hospital has the most NEC cases, as the hospital is struggling with severe staff shortages and overcrowded conditions.
“I have requested the SA Human Rights Commission to inspect this hospital as I distrust the Gauteng health department, which has covered up avoidable baby deaths in the past.”