118 newborn babies abandoned at public hospitals in Gauteng since start of 2020 - health dept

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118 babies have been abandoned in Gauteng.
118 babies have been abandoned in Gauteng.
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  • 118 babies have been abandoned at birth in a number of Gauteng hospitals this year.
  • The provincial health department said there were various factors behind babies being abandoned.
  • It said hospital social workers conducted care-option programmes with expectant mothers.

Since the start of the year, 118 babies have been abandoned at birth in various public hospitals across Gauteng.

In a statement on Thursday, the Gauteng Department of Health said it was concerned by the number of newborn infants being abandoned at the health facilities.

According to the department, reasons for the babies being abandoned ranged from unwanted or unplanned pregnancies, lack of financial and emotional support from the father, undocumented migrant mothers, and teenage mothers being fearful of their parents.

READ | Covid-19: More than 27 000 cases, 230 deaths among SA's healthcare workers

Once abandoned, the time spent in hospital by these babies ranged from between a week to a month, sometimes longer, depending on the medical condition of the infant and the time it took for hospital social workers to facilitate the process for the transferal of a baby to an accredited child protection organisation.

These are the hospitals with the highest rate of child abandonment in 2020:

Carletonville hospital –19

Leratong hospital in Krugersdorp –19

Far East Rand hospital in Springs –13

Tembisa hospital –10

Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital in Johannesburg –10

The department said hospital social workers conducted educational awareness programmes with expectant mothers on care options - such as adoption, temporal care and foster care - in order to reduce the number of abandoned babies.

"Through networking with child protection organisations, hospital social workers are able to provide mothers at risk for abandonment, with basic material support for both mother and child,” it said.

"This provides the mother with some immediate means to care for herself and the baby until she can make an informed decision. In instances where the mothers agree to care for the child, upon discharge, she is referred to a child protection organisation for further support and care options."

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