803 baby deaths at Charlotte Maxeke in three years

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Some 803 babies have died out of 28 441 births at the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Hospital (CMJH) in the past three years.

Jack Bloom, Democratic Alliance MPL in Gauteng writes: “This is disclosed by Gauteng Health MEC Gwen Ramokgopa in a written reply to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature.

“The deaths each year were as follows: 2014 – 304 deaths; 2015 – 238 deaths; and 2016 – 261 deaths.

“This amounts to 2.8% of all births, which is a higher percentage than the 2% of births at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital over the same time period with 1,338 deaths out of 61,503 births.

“The recorded causes of death in 2016 were as follows: prematurity related – 33%; hypoxia – 13%; sepsis – 14%; congenital – 13%; and other – 27%.

“I am concerned about the high percentage of deaths from other causes, which has climbed from 10% of deaths in 2014 to 27% in 2016. Such a large number of deaths needs to be broken down more precisely.

“Ramokgopa says that there was no negligence in any of the deaths, but I think more evidence is needed to back this up.

“There were 8 babies born with brain damage from 2014 to 2016, mostly because of congenital deformities.

“According to Ramokgopa, there are no shortages of equipment in the neonatal and maternity wards, and an additional Criticool unit has been prioritized for purchased in the next financial year.

“There are three vacant specialist posts and one medical officer vacancy which are expected to be filled shortly.

“It should be noted that CMJH only deals with complicated births and many of the deaths are likely to have been unavoidable.

“The maternity unit was renovated in 2004, so conditions are much better than at Chris Hani Baragwanath and the hospital also has far fewer medical negligence cases. It is important that all maternity units have adequate staff and equipment so that the best care possible is given to mothers who give birth.”

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