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118 Babies Abandoned After Birth At Gauteng Hospitals This Year – Health Department

New mothers abandoned 118 babies right after birth at Gauteng hospitals this year only.

The highest numbers were recorded at Carletonville, Leratong, Far East Rand, Tembisa and Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital.

Both Carletonville and Leratong hospitals in the West Rand had the most number of abandoned babies with 19 each. Far East Rand recorded 13 while Tembisa and Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital had 10 each.

The Gauteng Department of Health said the number of abandoned babies was concerning.

According to the department, some of the reasons cited for mothers abandoning their babies include teenage mothers scared of their parents, unwanted and unplanned pregnancies, lack of immediate basic supplies such as clothes and toiletries for the mother and newborn upon discharge, and lack of emotional, financial and social support from the father.

Undocumented migrant mothers were also abandoning their babies.

Spokesperson Kwara Kekana said abandoned babies spent anything from a week to a month or longer in hospital depending on their medical condition.

Their time in hospital was also determined by how long it took hospital social workers to facilitate pre-statutory processes for the transfer of the baby to an accredited child protection organisation, in terms of the Children’s Act, she said.

“To reduce the number of abandoned babies, hospital social workers conduct educational awareness programmes with expectant mothers on care options such as adoption, temporary care and foster care.

“Through networking with child protection organisations, hospital social workers are able to provide mothers at risk for abandonment with basic material support for both mother and child.

“This provides the mother with some immediate means to care for herself and the baby until she can make an informed decision. In instances where the mother agrees to care for the child, upon discharge she is referred to a child protection organisation for further support and care options.”

Kekana also said they had improved identification of expectant and new mothers at “risk for abandonment” who are referred by nurses to hospital social workers for psycho-education, counselling and other care options

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