Youngest mothers of New Year’s Day babies were aged 16

2019-01-16 06:01
PHOTO: supplied(From right) Kwenzekile Myende and her baby Owami are congratulated by MEC Dhlomo, acting HOD Dr Musa Gumede and Cllr Thabani Dube and his counterpart at Umzumbe Municipality Cllr Sizwe Ngcobo on New Year’s Day.

PHOTO: supplied(From right) Kwenzekile Myende and her baby Owami are congratulated by MEC Dhlomo, acting HOD Dr Musa Gumede and Cllr Thabani Dube and his counterpart at Umzumbe Municipality Cllr Sizwe Ngcobo on New Year’s Day.

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KWAZULU-NATAL Health MEC Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo believes more open dialogue about the dangers of unprotected sex and teenage pregnancy could reduce by up to half, the number of mothers who die while giving birth, or shortly afterwards.

“Significantly, teenage pregnancy accounts for about eight to 10% of all deliveries in the country, which is about a million deliveries per year.

“But close to 45% of maternal deaths in the country come from this small 10% [of teenage mothers], because these young people generally delay coming to our clinics. They hide the pregnancy. And by the time they come to deliver, there are certain complications that cannot be reversed.

“Therefore, if we were to reduce or eradicate teenage pregnancy, we would significantly improve the maternal health outcomes of the province.”

The MEC was speaking at G.J. Crookes Hospital in Scottburgh, where he also announced that by 8 am, KwaZulu-Natal had 36 babies (17 boys and 19 girls) born on New Year’s Day.

Bongiwe Mlotshwa’s (30) daughter was the first New Year’s Day baby in the province, arriving exactly on the stroke of midnight, at Eshowe Hospital. At Addington Hospital, Sindisiwe Gumede (24) gave birth to boy twins.

The two youngest mothers of New Year’s Day babies were aged 16, and gave birth at Ekhombe and Edendale hospitals.

Although G.J. Crookes Hospital is also concerned about the rate of teenage pregnancy in its service area, the MEC said he is nevertheless pleased that it has developed a programme of community dialogues to heighten awareness about the benefits of abstinence, protected sex, and the dangers of teenage pregnancy.

He also applauded the hospital for having not a single maternal death for the past three quarters of the year.

Describing the hospital as a beacon of hope, Dhlomo also commended the mayor of Umdoni Municipality, Thabani Dube, and his counterpart at Umzumbe Municipality Sizwe Ngcobo, for being active members of the hospital board. He said both leaders set a good example of how the involvement of community leaders can improve efficiency at a health-care facility.

“The governance of this hospital, not only on the side of management, but also in terms of community leaders who are supporting it, is what makes it this strong.

“Recently, we had a meeting with the Minister of Health Dr Aaron Motsoaledi where we expressed our concern regarding the rate of maternal deaths, which are coming in mainly from district hospitals.

“Listening to the leadership of this hospital, from doctors to nurses, and how they are supported by the district specialist teams and consultants from neighbouring hospitals, I wish that we could take the lessons from here and cascade them to other hospitals to improve maternal and child health outcomes because that is one of our main goals.” — Supplied.

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