By Asanda Nini
More than 1200 of Eastern Cape children admitted at provincial public hospitals for severe malnutrition have died in the past four years.The 1205 children were among 10441 children admitted at the health facilities with severe malnutrition between April 2013 and the end of March this year.
Of the deaths, 500 were recorded in the OR Tambo district, while 196 were in the Alfred Nzo district.
In Chris Hani, 140 deaths were recorded, 113 in Amathole and 92 in Buffalo City Metro, while Joe Gqabi, Nelson Mandela Bay Metro and Sarah Baartman reported 72, 70 and 22 deaths.
This was revealed to the Bhisho legislature recently by provincial health MEC Dr Phumza Dyantyi.
She was responding to written questions posed by DA MPL Celeste Barker.
Malnutrition results from eating a diet in which certain nutrients are either not enough or too much, so that the diet causes health problems. Malnutrition can also be defined as the insufficient, excessive or imbalanced consumption of nutrients.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) says that malnutrition is the largest contributor to child mortality globally, and its symptoms include problems with physical or mental development, poor energy levels, a swollen abdomen and swollen legs.
The MEC’s September 8 report revealed that more than 3300 infants succumbed to neonatal deaths between 2014 and June this year.
Neonatal death is defined as a death that takes place during the first 28 days of a newborn’s life.
Dyantyi said of the 324674 babies born in public hospitals between 2014 and this June, 3356 of them did not make it past their first 28 days.
More than 1190 of the babies died in 2014, 1006 in 2015, 837 last year, and 319 between January and June this year. “In the investigations we conducted, no cases of negligence were identified in such deaths,” Dyantyi said.
The MEC added that the maternity and neonatal departments in some provincial state hospitals were experiencing huge vacancy rates.
“The department has advertised 500 positions of enrolled nurses and enrolled nursing assistants,” she said.
“In addition, during the adjustment estimates budget period, the department is set to receive additional funding from Treasury to improve maternal and child health services at targeted districts and regional hospitals across the province.”