By Jack Bloom MPL, DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health:
A total of 6901 babies were born last year to foreign parents at the Rahima Moosa Mother and Child Hospital, amounting to about 26% of all the 26 467 babies born there in 2014.
This is revealed by Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu in a written reply to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature.
Last week, Mahlangu claimed that 90% of patients were foreigners.
She said this after a shocking incident where a Zimbabwean mother was ignored by nurses at Rahima Moosa when she screamed for assistance, and subsequently lost her premature baby.
Most of the foreign babies were from Zimbabwean mothers (3882), but others were as follows:
- Somalia – 1000;
- Pakistan – 489;
- Ethiopia – 462;
- Nigeria – 437;
- India – 400;
- Malawi – 100;
- Congo – 50;
- Lesotho – 50;
- Swaziland – 20;
- Cameroon – 6; and
- Tanzania – 5.
According to Mahlangu, there is an increase of foreign nationals to the area around Rahima Moosa, and all pregnant women regardless of origin are seen without fail.
The department is taking the following steps to prevent abuse:
- Patients assessed and relevant legal documents requested;
- Foreign patients to submit medical referral letters from country of origin;
- However, any patient/woman admitted because they are in labour which is an emergency condition cannot be refused access to care; and
- Adherence to hospital policy and monitoring of referrals.
The hospital is clearly taking strain with the extra influx of foreigners, some of whom come directly to deliver and then return home.
There are also extra birth complications because many do not come for antenatal care.
More pressure on our health system can be expected as people leave the deteriorating economic situation in Zimbabwe.
The real solution is better governance in Zimbabwe and other African countries, which should be a top priority in our foreign policy.