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Johannesburg – There are calls for increased support options for new mothers after the Gauteng Health MEC revealed that 145 babies were left without their mothers in Gauteng public hospitals last year.
Gauteng Health MEC Nomathemba Mokgethi, in response to questions posed to the Gauteng provincial legislature by DA’s Jack Bloom, revealed that 145 babies were abandoned in Gauteng public hospitals in 2020.
MEC said the Thelle Mogoerane Regional Hospital in Vosloorus had 51 abandoned babies in 2020, and other hospitals had large numbers of babies left without their mothers.
Leratong Hospital in Mogale City had 14 abandoned babies; Johannesburg’s Charlotte Maxeke University Hospital in Parktown had 13 babies; Chris Hani Baragwanath University Hospital in Soweto had 12 babies who were abandoned; Tembisa hospital in Tembisa had 10 babies; and Tambo Memorial Hospital had five babies who were left without mothers.
According to Mokgethi, the reasons for abandoned babies include baby born disabled, teenage mothers, unwanted or unplanned pregnancies; lack of financial and / or emotional support from the baby’s father; socio-economic problems; undocumented and foreign mothers; mental illness; drug addiction and relationship problems.
The MEC said hospital social workers help nurses identify new mothers at risk of abandonment and try to get accurate contact numbers for mothers.
She said social workers could also donate a basic pack of clothes and toiletries for the newborn, and a dignity pack and basic items for the mother.
Bloom said it was extremely distressing that there were so many abandoned babies due to deep-rooted issues in society.
“There are also babies abandoned outside hospitals who do not survive. There are worthy NGOs doing good work in this area.
“Support options for new mothers at risk should be strengthened and widely communicated so that no mother ever feels pressured to leave her child for social reasons,” shadow MEC for Health said.
Door of Hope director of operations Nadene Grabham said there were no official statistics on infant abandonment for South Africa as a whole.
She said the figures released were likely cases of mothers giving birth in the hospital and leaving the babies there, and cases where the police found the abandoned babies and took them to the hospital.
“These figures only relate to hospitals in Gauteng. And the rest of the country? What about abandoned babies in dangerous places? Grabham asked.
The director of operations said she has been keeping track of articles about abandoned babies in unsafe places since April 2020 and the total was 158.
“Of these 158 known abandonment items, 94 were found dead. It is quite worrying because how many are never found where they are abandoned in places where people cannot go, ”she said.
Grabham said that as a society there was a need to raise awareness of pregnancy crisis help centers and counseling centers.
“Many of these moms don’t know that there are so many people all over South Africa who specialize in helping desperate pregnant moms, whether it’s helping them place the baby in foster care. and in adoption if it is the choice of the mother. ” she said.
Grabham said there are also organizations that can help mothers with basic needs care for their babies.