New-born found in alleyway: why do we abandon babies in SA?

A newborn baby boy was found abandoned in an alley on Church Street in Pietermaritzburg early on Wednesday.

ER24 paramedics arrived just before 7am after being called by local authorities to find the infant lying‚ wrapped in a blanket‚ in the alleyway.

“On assessment‚ paramedics found that the boy had escaped any injury but was suffering from mild hypothermia‚” said ER24.

“The child was treated and warmed before he was transported to Northdale Hospital for urgent treatment.”

Investigative television show Carte Blanche reported last month that an estimated 3000 babies are abandoned in South Africa every year – but that figure is based largely on survivors.

The number of abandoned babies who die is largely unknown.

According to StatsSA‚ more than a million babies are born in South Africa each year. The Times reported earlier this year that nearly 20 out of 100000 new-born babies in South Africa are killed.

This is according to a study‚ based on records from 2009 from mortuaries across the country‚ whose lead author was Naeemah Abrahams‚ of the gender and health research unit at the SA Medical Research Council.

Abrahams said her research showed health and social services had failed to protect babies and help vulnerable mothers.

“I think that there is so much more than just blaming the mother for this. Many don’t know that they can give the baby up. We need to get this message across‚ as children don’t need to die‚” she said.

Joan van Niekerk‚ a consultant on child protection‚ told The Times: “We need to ask why so many young women are abandoning their babies‚ and what supports are in place.”


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