Poor infection control may be cause of infants’ deaths

2010-05-19 14:32

Gauteng Health and Social Development MEC Qedani Mahlangu has

admitted that poor infection control may be among the reasons for the deaths

of six infants at the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic


All the infants had been born prematurely and were placed in

incubators in the hospital’s overcrowded neonatal ward.

Speaking during a news briefing this afternoon, Mahlangu confirmed

that action would be taken against doctors and nurses found to have been

responsible for the deaths.

Although the cause of deaths is yet to be confirmed, the MEC

suggested all this could have resulted from mothers or family members wearing

unsterilised clothing or negligence by health professionals.

“These (premature) babies are very sensitive to non-hygienic

surroundings,” she said.

The ward is supposed to accommodate 35 but at the time of the

incident there were 50 infants.

Mahlangu also blamed overcrowding and staff shortages across all

the province’s health facilities.

The outbreak was identified on Saturday after an infant who is

still alive was infected with diarrhoea.

The hospital appears to have failed to halt the spread but Mahlangu

refused to blame lax staffers until the investigation into the deaths is


All the remaining infants have been moved to another ward while the

“death ward” – as it has been dubbed by a health department official – is being


Mahlangu denied this latest incident would negatively affect

Gauteng’s preparations for the Fifa World Cup.

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