Special service monitors hospital outbreak

2007-11-28 00:00

A 24-hour microbiology service has been set up to monitor the klebsiella outbreak at Prince Mshiyeni Memorial Hospital where five infants recently died. Doctors said all the babies had respiratory distress syndrome and one had intra-uterine growth retardation.

Yesterday, Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang visited the hospital with KZN Health MEC Peggy Nkonyeni. She cited inadequate human and hospital resources as possible reasons for the outbreak, after management presented their findings in a private meeting.

A probe into the deaths is underway, however, staff negligence has been ruled out. Instead, the minister commended the “early” detection of the outbreak and said nursery staff had “tried their best”.

This was despite teenage mothers who did not attend antenatal care and gave birth to underweight babies, she said.

However, the lack of resources was a valid challenge that government wouldn’t have been able to solve within 13 years, according to Tshabalala-Msimang.

She said that the hospital serves a population of 1,6 million people. Monthly, a total of 1 200 deliveries are performed and outpatients exceed 42 000 people, leaving a heavy workload for staff.

The department will in January next year deploy a specialist to attend to infection control across government hospitals. “It is unfortunate that we have had to face this challenge of Klebsiella once again … after we responded to a similar challenge at Mahatma Ghandi Hospital in 2005,” the minister said.

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