HEALTH Minister Aaron Motsoaledi has blamed the HIV pandemic for the country's high infant mortality rate.
He said that HIV-Aids was at the centre of what happened at the Natalspruit Hospital's neonatal ward.
Two weeks ago 10 babies died on the same day at the Ekurhuleni hospital. Three of them were stillborn, one had an extremely low birth weight and died immediately after birth. The other six died of various reasons which the minister did not divulge.
But he said that it did not necessarily mean the infants were HIV positive.
South Africa records 20000 stillbirths and 22000 babies under one-year-old die every year. More than half of these deaths are HIV-Aids related. A 2007 study on infant mortality in the country showed that most of these deaths could have been avoided.
Motsoaledi said yesterday: "Unless we deal with the HIV-Aids burden the infant mortality will continue to increase.
"South Africa is 0,7percent of the world population but it carries 17percent of the HIV-Aids burden," he said.
"We need to fight this pandemic if we intend to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, which include reducing infant and child mortality by two-thirds by 2015."
South Africa is not winning the battle against infant and child mortality, with 75000 children under five perishing from HIV-Aids related illnesses.