Anroux Marais MPP

DA Western Cape spokesperson for Health and Member of Western Cape Provincial Parliament

As the spokesperson for the DA in the Western Cape on Health, I welcome the new R30 million Centre for Childhood Infectious Disease to be built at the Red Cross Children’s Hospital. There is much need for a centre of this calibre. Even though South Africa has many hospitals with specialised infectious disease centres, not one of them are dedicated to children.

This centre will boast an outpatient clinic for infectious diseases, a research and training unit, where both paediatricians and other health workers from other community clinics can be trained in infectious disease treatment. The centre will also increase wellness in the Western Cape as well as the country as a whole. It will not only centralise services but also perpetuate that we are “Better Together” by co-ordinating the activities of the infectious disease unit and the research and training unit.

The prospect of this facility brings along with it a sense of relief, excitement and gratitude as our children will be provided with life altering treatment for diseases which have reduced wellness in our communities for far too long. If one considers the statistics, in 2009/10 there were 95 cases of diarrhoea per 1 000 children under the age of 5, which is one of the leading causes of infant mortality. Approximately 20% of children’s deaths in the country are due to pneumonia.

Even with this high numbers of deaths due to infectious diseases, it is alarming that there are parents who are still against vaccinations, especially since infections cannot be controlled without vaccines. Children can be vaccinated against Polio, measles, hepatitis B, Pertussis (whooping cough), Tetanus (lock jaw) and most importantly in the South African context, Tuberculosis (TB) Meningitis.

The DA encourages all parents to vaccinate their children as it will not only save their lives but save up to R500 000 in infectious disease treatment costs.

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