Gauteng Health MEC Dr Nomathemba Mokgethi has revealed that there are currently 36 abandoned babies in public hospitals across the province.
Mokgethi was responding to questions from the DA’s Jack Bloom in the Gauteng legislature.
In 2020, a total of 143 newborns were abandoned in Gauteng hospitals.
According to the Health MEC, 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).
There are different reasons as to why mothers decide to leave the hospital without their newborns, including unplanned and teenage pregnancies. In some instances, babies born with disabilities are also abandoned.
She says the amount of time babies spend in hospital depends on how healthy they are. Newborns with disabilities tend to stay longer due to the need for special care and the difficulty in finding a suitable home for them.
“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.
Bloom has expressed concern over this, saying it is immensely distressing that there are so many abandoned babies due to deep-rooted problems in our society. He further noted that there are babies who are abandoned outside of 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 said.
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