Experts probe Pretoria baby deaths

2011-06-24 16:11
Johannesburg - A team of experts will begin investigations on Friday into the deaths of five premature babies at Jubilee Hospital in Hammanskraal, Pretoria north, a spokesperson said.

The team would look at all aspects which led to the deaths, including issues of possible infection at the hospital, Gauteng health spokesperson Dr Sello Mokoena said.

The team comprises of the same experts who probed Charlotte Maxeke Hospital in Johannesburg where six babies died around the same time last year.

Those babies contracted the norovirus, and it was identified that overcrowding, staff shortages and lack of equipment, attributed to their deaths.

According to reports, the five babies at Jubilee Hospital were allegedly not put into incubators and could not keep warm.

A hospital source told the Star newspaper that four of the hospital's six incubators were broken, while the remaining two were faulty and do not regulate heat properly.

Two babies died on Monday, two more died on Tuesday and the fifth one died early on Wednesday morning.

"Babies die here almost on a daily basis, and I think it is because of the cold. Something has to be done here immediately to save our babies," said a mother.

Mokoena said according to the hospital's CEO Damaria Magaro, post mortem evidence on the babies indicated that their deaths were not because of mismanagement at the hospital.

"When I heard about the incident from various media, I immediately made a call to the hospital and asked what happened," Mokoena said.

He added that the parents of the newborns were being provided with "psycho-social" counselling by priests and social workers.

He could not say when a report on the investigations would be made.

DA Gauteng health spokesperson Jack Bloom said the investigation should have "no cover ups".

"There must be no cover-up of the causes of the baby deaths, and the investigation report must be made public as soon as possible."
- SAPA
Read more on:    health
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