Tragedy of baby deaths?eastern cape

In response to a question in the National Council of Provinces last week, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said there was a severe shortage of "highly trained paediatricians, advanced midwives and highly trained paediatric nurses".

Tragedy of baby deaths?eastern cape,Baby deaths have been highlighted at East Londons Frere Hospital. Pic: ALAN EASON. 04/07/2007. Dail Dispatch.SUFFER LITTLE CHILDREN: Exhausted Frere Hospital maternity staff are stretched so thin they are forced to abandon the nursery and leave babies unattended at night to assist doctors in theatre. l Full report tomorrow.

The shortage of skilled midwives has contributed to South Africas ilure in meeting the UNs fourth Millennium Development Goal – reducing child mortality.

Motsoaledi said yesterday that training more midwives was part of his plan to tackle the staff shortage.

Statistics released last week by The Lancet, the UK medical journal, show that every day more than 61 babies are stillborn and 58 die shortly after birth.

A critical shortage of qualified midwives is to blame for the shocking number of babies who die at birth.

Motsoaledi told the National Council of Provinces on Thursday that more than 1.1million babies were delivered Tragedy of baby deaths?eastern capeat public hospitals each year but that "most of the skilled personnel . are in the private sector in much more larger numbers than in the public sector".

The worst-performing province was Eastern Cape, where less than 40% of an unspecified number of vacancies had been filled. The best-performing province was the Free State, where almost 89% of vacant posts had been filled.

Dr Joy Lawn, of Save the Children, said that district hospitals were the biggest culprits in respect of "avoidable" stillbirths because many of their nurses were unskilled or negligent.

South Africa ranks 148th of 193 countries for its still-birth rate. It is in 10th position in Africa.

Motsoaledi admitted that maternal and innt mortality rates "are so high that we can say they are starting to be out of control".

But he said the department had filled more than 3000 nursing posts in Limpeastern cape dept of health vacanciesopo since February .

Motsoaledi admitted that the percentage of vacant nursing posts filled in each province was "very bad".

"Eastern Cape is suffering because of a lack of funds and Im going to have to sit down and discuss this [with the provincial health department]," Motsoaledi said.

"We do not have many of these in many of our hospitals," he said.

He said that negligence would be investigated by the Health Professions Council.

"I am aware that, due to statements made in the media, many . believe that there are individual health workers who are going all out to negligently cause the death of babies."

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