Shock baby deaths in E Cape hospital

2011-03-02 22:59

East London - The Eastern Cape health department is investigating the death of 29 babies at the Cecilia Makhiwane Hospital in East London, a spokesperson said on Wednesday.

"MEC Sicelo Gqobana has ordered an urgent probe into death of 29 neonates... being treated at the hospital's paediatric intensive care unit," spokesperson Sizwe Kupelo said in a statement.

He said the babies died in January. The matter was not reported to the department, which only became aware of it this week following media enquiries.

"The MEC is particularly concerned that hospital authorities have failed to report the deaths when he visited the hospital and met with management, doctors, nurses and organised labour two weeks ago."

Preliminary investigations by hospital authorities revealed that 23 of the 29 babies were referrals from clinics and hospitals around East London.

"The babies were all extremely low birth weight, below 1kg. Thirteen of them died from HIV-related complications. Doctors also noted klebsiella on three neonates. However, the department at this stage cannot conclude that there has been an epidemic or outbreak."

A team of epidemiologists, senior officials and doctors had been sent to the hospital as part of the investigation. It would look at infection prevention control issues, amongst other things.

Kupelo said the department would receive 100 additional emergency vehicles in April, and was also considering getting specialised ambulances for pregnant women and newborn babies.

The ambulances would be fitted with ventilators to try and reduce the province's infant mortality rate.

  • POLLENYS - 2011-03-02 23:25

    The nurses were very likely catching up on some sleep again.

  • Bonzo - 2011-03-02 23:44

    Ye Gods!

  • Mundu - 2011-03-02 23:51

    Safer to have your baby in the bush than in this hospital. Who have you got to thank.....The ANC.

  • phillie - 2011-03-03 00:22

    What the F**** has new ambulances got to do with babies dying in hospital Has this government and it's clowns now lost it completely.Maybe it was the tokoloshi's killing the babies

      Snoopy88 - 2011-03-03 15:07

      The babies were born prematurely. Probably due to the fact that there is a delay in getting the women to the hospital because they have transport issues and can't get there in time to stop the baby from coming. Hence more ambulances with ventilators, etc.

  • Blip - 2011-03-03 00:38

    Extreme bungling and dereliction of duty causing death is not a shock or surprise in the ANC heartland of Eastern Cape, surely? It happens on almost a daily basis.

  • Ozman - 2011-03-03 06:05


  • Sledgedarkwatch - 2011-03-03 06:51

    Anybody on this blog surprised ? Catshing a couple of Zzzzzzzzzzz on your shift is much more important.

  • Will99 - 2011-03-03 07:03

    Dit is onaanvaarbaar!!!

  • briansmith702 - 2011-03-03 08:19

    Sad but nothing new from the EC and the ANC cadres employed there.

  • dehaan1942 - 2011-03-03 08:43

    "A better life for ALL the people!" Was (is) that not the ANC slogan? Anyway, it appears that the African renaissance is alive and well in Xhosaland.

      William Baker - 2011-03-03 10:27

      a better life for us is more like it

  • Francois - 2011-03-03 08:51

    Comrades Cele and Mthethwa, somebody must get into court for culpable homicide for this. Now back straight, chest out, mouth shut Cele and go and to the job you are paid for.

      amagwadi40 - 2011-03-07 15:50


  • cosmic_99 - 2011-03-03 09:13

    I had an argument with a colleague the other day - I was complaining about paying such high taxes, but getting nothing in return. He proceeded to suggest that I have made the CHOICE to privatise my life (eg. medical aid), and that it is my decision to not use government facilities that are at my disposal. He then implied that because I am white person, I refuse to acknowledge that the government is providing 1st world services. When I read articles like this, I know that there is no choice here - I would never jeopardise the health of my family by using these hospitals. My colleague can send his pregnant wife to this hospital and hopefully he will not be attending his baby's funeral shortly thereafter.

      Valkyrie - 2011-03-03 10:51

      A few years ago, I was unemployed and had no option but to join the Community Clinic. I have always received acceptable service, although painfully slow. One has to take a number and wait at least 4 hours before getting to see the attending Sister or Doctor. I was often the only white person amongst a sea of black faces and I was glared at like I was defrauding the system just by being there! I honestly could not afford to go to a private Doctor as I had no income. Yet a lot of the "patients" wore designer jeans, carried designer handbags and used the latest cellphones. I had an old Nokia whose only claim to fame was that it had a colour screen! My point is that anyone with a fixed salary will not be allowed to make use of these services, whether they wanted to or not. So cosmic_99, you can inform your colleague of this. Even if we wanted to risk the state hospitals, because we are white, we are presumed able to afford a private Doctor and therefore don't fall into the "disadvantaged" category.

      cosmic_99 - 2011-03-03 11:16

      Valkyrie, I agree with you totally. When I had my second child, I decided that I would claim maternity UIF - not because I needed the money, but because it is my right as a tax paying citizen. I pay UIF every month, and for once I thought that I would rely on the government for something. Like you, I received death stares from the majority of the queue. But, I got my money, and I enjoyed making it clear to my fellow citizens that I was receiving my grant. It seems as though our fellow citizens believe that us whites MUST fund the state, but must not benefit from it in any shape or form. How very misguided. When I leave this country, I will frame all my IRP5 along with my husbands' - I will take it to one of these revolting places and stick it up onto the wall, so that everyone can see how much money they will lose out on when I take my business elsewhere.

  • swazi - 2011-03-03 09:42

    I am saddened by the tone of the comments here. As a NICU nurse of over 20 yrs I find it devastating that these babies had died. It is never so straight forward an answer, usually multi-layered. I am appalled at some of the comments left.... how will SA ever survive and move forward with such limited, stereotypical judgements. Is it not time for acceptance, forgiveness and working togeteher towards a better future for all, in particular with children in whose hands the elders will have to leave the country one day. Enough already!!

      William Baker - 2011-03-03 10:27

      All we as South Africans want is for someone to be held accountable for this disaster. It cannot go unpunished. but as usual no one has the guts to admit fault.

      POLLENYS - 2011-03-03 10:31

      Nothing stereotypical about the comments: That's how those with brains view the situation. Do the cabinet ministers go to state hospitals? Noooo! In fact a new facility just for the top gravy train riders is to be built. Do their children go to state schools? Noooo!

      cosmic_99 - 2011-03-03 10:41

      swazi, I commend you if you are a decent nurse. however, it is up to you guys to fix up your act and sort out your reputation - it is not up to the public to give you the benefit of the doubt. some of your colleagues are a disgrace to humanity. these stereotypes do not just emerge out of fresh air - they are the result of many unlawful and inhumane acts committed by members of your profession. my cousin's domestic worker was blatantly neglected by nurses and died because simply because she is zimbawean....despite the fact that she was legally in SA and was a hardworking respectable woman. my friend's sister was hit and mistreated by a few of your colleagues last month - she also died in the most undignified manner. stop making this south africa's problem - sort yourselves out!

  • alfred - 2011-03-03 10:38

    Not again!!! The Eastern Cape is the a##hole of the country. Nothing works there. Education department is f#cked up. Health department is f#cked up. Police service is f#cked up. Why buy ventilators for ambulances? Its just less space to put the shopping.

  • Mandy - 2011-03-03 11:04

    C'est la vie. Given the hospital is probably being run by a bunch of incompetants, but, babies under 1kg with HIV complications nogal!!! and bacterial infections - are hardly likely to survive are they???

  • Krush - 2011-03-03 11:15

    Combination of 2 things: HIV & BAD SERVICE. What do you expect from uneducated people being put into positions they're not qualified for. This is what the ANC want for their people? The proof is in the pudding.

  • Sharon - 2011-03-03 12:53

    29 babies died and they didn't report it??????? The doctors and nurses on the noenatal ward should be fired. How can they sleep at night knowing that they failed in their jobs and these defenseless babies died. Sure some of the babies were really sick but hells bells NOT ALL 29.

      charley - 2011-03-03 13:43

      Agree, so shocking, that it wasn't reported, but as been stated so many times, no responbility taken by anyone, so who is going to report the deaths. Wonder what else hasn't been reported

  • colette.rossouw - 2011-03-03 13:44

    Something should have been done when, at least, the 3rd baby died.... 10 is a high amount, 20 is ridiculous, BUT 29??!!! What's the ratio then? 4 out of every 5 babies die? They should shut it down. We hear similar stories all the time, but never follow ups as to what the cause was or who was held responsible.

  • Snoopy88 - 2011-03-03 15:01

    I was under the impression that babies below 1kg are generally not going to make it unless you have top specialist care to be found in well-equipped private hospitals. And even then its touch and go. It wasn't too long ago that they didn't even try and revive babies below 1kg, even at the best facilities. I think they should be looking at the quality of antenatal care pregnant women are getting if any... They also have serious problems with transport to a hospital if they go into premature labour. If you can get to a hospital in time they can give you drugs to stop the contractions. Low birth weight can be caused by a number of factors. Its therefore grossly unfair to lay all the blame for these deaths with the hospital and the staff.

  • Charnelle - 2012-06-02 16:04

    This week after reading so many stories of children dying at the hands of those people that are known and employed to protect. I am ashamed to be part of this country, our children are no longer safe. I fear for the life of my own child. It really is a crying shame.

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