Foreign births soar in Joburg hospital

Jack Bloom MPL

DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health

Babies born to foreign mothers have soared in Johannesburg’s South Rand Hospital, rising from 258 in 2011 to 671 in 2012 and 920 in 2013.

This is revealed by Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu in a written reply to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature.

The mothers are mostly from a range of African countries, but babies have also been born there from Chinese, Syrian, Pakistan and Indian mothers.

The 920 births to foreign mothers amounts to 30% of the 3057 total births at the South Rand Hospital last year.

According to Mahlangu: “there are general misconceptions about health care services in South Africa  … which may attract a lot of foreign nationals, a survey will be conducted to verify what accounts for the high number of non-South African mothers giving birth in South Africa.”

Whilst non-South African mothers are classified as full-paying private patients and should pay a fee of R8000, this is very rarely collected. Refugees and asylum seekers get free treatment, while permanent residents, and immigrants with work or study permits, are subject to the normal means test.

The increasingly heavy load of foreign maternity patients is worrying as our hospitals already operate under huge pressure.

It appears that some pregnant mothers visit South African specifically to give birth in our hospitals. According to the department, the numbers of mothers who are not locally resident “are being verified.”

The Gauteng Health Department should research this matter and take appropriate steps to prevent abuse.