DoH presenting skewed child and maternal mortality figures

By Dr Imran Keeka,MPL, DA KZN Spokesperson on Health:

The DA has established through a written parliamentary response that KZN’s health department is presenting severely skewed figures for child and maternal mortality rates in the province.

This after figures for the leading causes of the death of children under the age of five during the first financial quarter of 2015 failed to tally with the overall number of children that died.

According to a 29 October reply from MEC, Sibongiseni Dhlomo, between 1 April and 30 June, a total of 2 336 children died – 1 287 under the age of five and 1 049 babies under the age of one.

Yet, according to the department’s breakdown on the leading cause of these deaths a total of 6 669 children died – 4 517 under the under age of five and 2 152 under the age of one

At best, the department’s skewed figures are a serious administrative bungle.

At worst, the MEC and his department are guilty of misleading the people of KZN, South Africa and the World Health Organisation (WHO) who depend on these figures to measure what were Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5, now known as Sustainable Development Goals.

If the figures from KZN are anything to go by, the credibility of South Africa’s figures presented internationally must be brought into serious question

In July last year, the DA revealed that KZN’s child mortality increased by 19% between 2012 and 2013.  This after it had seen an earlier decline.

Discussions with medical personnel at various KZN hospitals at the time revealed several factors for this increase, including severe staff and equipment shortages, a breakdown in primary healthcare, inadequate training of community healthcare workers and a lack of support by the DoH.

Severe Malnutrition, also a leading cause of children dying, is often recorded as diarroheal disease, which further skews figures.

The failures within the provincial Department of Health are now affecting the most vulnerable in our society.

The DA expects MEC Dhlomo to clarify these figures. Accurate up to date information is critical for the implementation of successful preventive measures.