Mahatma Gandhi deaths on the rise

George Mari, MPP

Member of the DA Caucus in the KwaZulu-Natal Legislature

The number of deaths at Mahatma Gandhi hospital is on the rise with a parliamentary reply revealing that while 1 268 patients died at the facility during 2012, the figure by July 2013 was already at 734 with 129 stillbirths.

The statistics, provided by KZN’s Health MEC, Sibongiseni Dhlomo, in response to questions posed by the DA, also reveal that there were 985 “medicine” deaths, 224 stillbirths and 111 neonatal deaths during 2012.

The reply also reveals that 177 newborns died at the hospital over an 18 month period and there were 9 maternal deaths.

This is extremely disturbing.

The same reply also gives details for 1 January to 31 July 2013;

Category                     Number of deaths 2012        Number of deaths (Jan-July 2013)

Medicine                                 985                                                      538

Maternal deaths                     9                                                          7

Paediatrics                              61                                                        43

Surgery                                    79                                                        62

Gynaecology                           23                                                        15

Neonates                                 111                                                      69

Stillbirths                                 224                                                      129

The figures clearly indicate that the number of people who die at Mahatma Gandhi this year is likely to exceed that of last year.

Several years ago Mahatma Gandhi was dubbed the “hospital of death”.  At the time the DOH announced various intervention plans.  Yet little seems to have changed.  The Board itself is in disarray, staff are unhappy with the way the hospital is run and unannounced visits by the DA have also revealed that this facility does not run as it should.

Mahatma Gandhi hospital serves a large area of eThekwini.  For many it is the only state care option available.  It is essential that the level of care be the highest possible.

The DA calls on KwaZulu-Natal’s Health MEC to launch an investigation into Mahatma Gandhi hospital.  It is crucial that an enquiry take place and the common denominator – whether it is a lack of management, shoddy health care, medical negligence or another factor- is found.