143 babies abandoned at Gauteng hospitals in 2020, says health MEC Mokgethi

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Many babies have been abandoned at Gauteng hospitals.
Many babies have been abandoned at Gauteng hospitals.
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  • In 2020, Thelle Mogoerane Hospital in Vosloorus had the highest number of abandoned babies, with 51.
  • There are currently 36 in Gauteng public hospitals. 
  • Some of the reasons for the abandonments were because the babies were disabled, were a result of an unwanted/unplanned pregnancy, or the child's mother was a teenager. 

One-hundred-and-forty-three babies were abandoned at Gauteng's public hospitals in 2020.

Currently, there are 36 infants abandoned at different hospitals in the province.

Health MEC Nomathemba Mokgethi revealed this in response to questions from the DA's Jack Bloom in the Gauteng legislature.

Mokgethi revealed that Thelle Mogoerane Hospital in Vosloorus had the highest number of abandoned babies in 2020, with 51. It was followed by Leratong Hospital (14) and Charlotte Maxeke Academic Johannesburg (13).

Mokgethi said that some of the reasons for the abandonment were because the babies were disabled, unwanted or unplanned pregnancies, or that the child's mother was a teenager. 

Babies with special needs

She said that the amount of time these babies spent in hospitals was largely determined by their state of health. 

"Once a baby is dischargeable, they can remain in the ward for a further week up to a month until they are removed in terms of the Children's Act 38 of 2005 by a social worker," Mokgethi said.

She added that babies with special needs may stay longer due to challenges in finding suitable placements for them. 

READ | 'One of the scariest resuscitations' - Doctor who saved abandoned baby

Mokgethi said that hospital social workers worked with nurses to identify new mothers at risk for abandonment and tried to get accurate contact numbers for them. They also provided a donation of a basic pack of clothes and toiletries for the newborn and a dignity pack and basic items for the mother.

Bloom said the problem of so many babies being abandoned was upsetting.

Bloom said:

It is immensely distressing that there are so many abandoned babies due to deep-rooted problems in our society. There are also babies who are abandoned outside hospitals who do not survive.

"There are worthy NGOs who do good work in this area. The support options for new mothers at risk should be strengthened and communicated widely, so that no mother ever feels forced to leave her child for social reasons," he added. 

Mokgethi said that there had been decrease in the number of abandoned babies during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

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