Poor care puts little ones in danger

Anna Majavu

In one of the poorest districts in the country children under one-year-old are almost certain to die if they contract pneumonia, diarrhea or suffer from malnutrition.

These are the findings of a report into a spate of child deaths in Ukhahlamba district in Eastern Cape.

The report found that hospitals and clinics in the district were incapable of providing the care that is needed to keep babies alive.

In the first three months of this year 140 children died at nine hospitals in the area, an increase of 69 percent in the child mortality rate.

The report says the deaths from diarrhea, malnutrition and pneumonia were the inevitable result of "poor healthcare to a vulnerable community".

"Most of these deaths were of infants who were seen, referred and died within 48 hours of being admitted," says the report.

"The majority of them were never weighed, their nutritional and HIV status was not established."