DA KZN:  More children die in KZN hospitals

Dr Rishigen Viranna, MPL

DA KZN Alternate Spokesperson on Health

A Parliamentary reply to the DA in KZN has revealed that the mortality rate for children under five years of age increased by a staggering 19% between 2012 and 2013.

The reply confirms that there were 4 280 deaths in 2013.  This is 682 more than in 2012.

Extremely worrying is that projected child deaths for 2014 will also be above 4 000.

The DA is horrified by this information. The failures within the provincial Department of Health are now affecting the most vulnerable in our society.

The increase has been noted in large regional and academic hospitals, such as Grey’s, King Edward, Newcastle, Stanger and Port Shepstone Hospitals. This is despite these hospitals supposedly being well appointed with staff and equipment. The situation is even more serious at rural district hospitals.

Alarmingly, child mortality was previously one issue on the decline according to earlier statistics. Discussions with medical personnel at various hospitals across the province have revealed that the following factors are behind the sudden increase;

–          Severe shortages in medical staff and equipment in public hospitals

–          The breakdown of the primary healthcare system, with improper diagnoses and treatment and late referrals to hospital

–          Inadequate training of community healthcare workers in identifying childhood danger signs

–          A lack of support from the KZN Department of Health

–          The failure of department programmes and interventions such as Phila Mntwana and Ward Based Outreach Teams

I will today write to KZN Health MEC, Sibongiseni Dhlomo calling for an immediate Commission of Enquiry to determine the true causes for the increase in childhood deaths in this province. I will also submit further parliamentary questions seeking greater clarity on the extent of this problem.