Babies moved from striking hospital in North West

Minister of Health Aaron Motsoaledi visits Unit 9 Health Centre in Mmabatho, North West, to check the situation there as Nehawu strike continues.
Minister of Health Aaron Motsoaledi visits Unit 9 Health Centre in Mmabatho, North West, to check the situation there as Nehawu strike continues.
Image: Tiro Ramatlhatse

Five babies were rushed to Mahikeng hospital from Lehurutshe yesterday as Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi feared more infant deaths as the Nehawu strike and unrest spread in North West.

"This is a bigger problem than health, It's a difficult situation, I must say," he said yesterday while visiting the province that's been set alight by calls for the resignation of premier Supra Mahumapelo.

Motsoaledi has called in the army to help patients who have been hit hard by the Nehawu strike. Since it started three months ago, five clinics, a medicine depot and a provincial hospital have been shut down.

The babies, who were delivered at Lehurutshe hospital in Zeerust, 60km from Mahikeng, were allegedly placed at risk by striking health workers.

"What do newborn babies have to do with this? It's unacceptable. Even in situation of war, people tend to go easy especially when there are babies involved," Motsoaledi said.

"Even if strikers had legitimate grievances, what type of human beings are we in South Africa where we don't even respect newborn babies? It's scary."

Motsoaledi said 40 nurses and seven doctors from the army were called in to assist and that another 17 nurses and nine doctors were expected to arrive today.

Motsoaledi said the striking health workers had removed non-striking nurses from the neonatal unit.

"I got so scared. Fortunately, we rushed and brought the babies here.

"What normal human being goes into a hospital and punishes a newborn baby and almost subjects them to death because, if we could not have skipped them out of hospital, they were going to die."

Sowetan reported recently that a month-old baby died when her mother was forced to queue even after explaining she needed urgent medical attention.

Motsoaledi said they were sending the army to other parts of the province too to help out.

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