Dr: Take care of kids

2016-11-08 06:00
Dr Graeme Spittal, a paediatrician at the Mitchell’s Plain District Hospital encourages parents to take precautions (like washing hands regularly) during diarrhoea and pneumonia season.  PHOTO: SAMANTHA LEE

Dr Graeme Spittal, a paediatrician at the Mitchell’s Plain District Hospital encourages parents to take precautions (like washing hands regularly) during diarrhoea and pneumonia season. PHOTO: SAMANTHA LEE

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As the surge season for two of the most common causes of infant death nears, a local doctor is urging parents to take preventative measures.

Cases of diarrhoea and pneumonia increases in surge season from November 2016 to May 2017.

In recent years, one in every 200 children in Mitchell’s Plain died from pneumonia and two in every 1000 died from diarrhoea.

But this need not continue, if the correct preventative measures are taken, says a local children’s doctor.

Recently appointed paediatrician Doctor Graeme Spittal works at the Mitchell’s Plain District Hospital and says he is passionate about healthcare and the community.

“One of the things I am passionate about is getting out to the community. We deal with illness all the time in the hospital, but the only way we are going to improve illness is to think about improving health. And that does not happen in the hospital, that happens in the community and in people’s houses,” says Spittal.

Although not unique to Mitchell’s Plain, he says in recent years much focus has been put on diarrhoea as the leading cause of baby deaths. But pneumonia has claimed many more lives.

“From a paediatric point of view, many children used to die from diarrhoea. Now, in many areas, but specifically in [Mitchell’s Plain], many more children are dying from pneumonia – three times more,” says Spittal.

He offers the following tips to help prevent these illnesses and improve children’s health overall:

. Breastfeed babies for at least the first six months of their lives.

. Do not smoke while pregnant or in the company of young children.

. Keep children’s immunisations up to date.

. Wash your hands regularly and follow clean guidelines when preparing food.

. Give children vitamin A and deworm them.

“The most important tip is not to wait too long with a sick child to access the healthcare services,” says Spittal.

Immunisations, deworming and vitamin A are available for free at clinics.

Nurses are also available to offer advice and additional tips on healthcare, says Spittal.

He encourages pre- and post-natal care to ensure the health of both the mother and baby.

“Keeping young children healthy improves their early childhood development, reduces the risk of long-term chronic diseases and improves both their physical and mental growth,” says Spittal.

Spittal has only been at the hospital for a short time and moved to South Africa after completing his studies in Scotland.

He became qualified as a paediatrician in 2013 and worked in KwaZulu-Natal and other parts of South Africa before settling at the Mitchell’s Plain Hospital this year.

“The paediatric ward is doing very well and is one of the best,” says Spittal.

He says the enthusiasm of the nursing staff has aided his passion and he hopes to continue on with the unit to help make a long-term impact in the area.

 
The paediatric team will be at the Mitchell’s Plain Festival doing demonstrations and giving more information on Saturday 26 November.




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