KZN HEALTH MEC MS NOMAGUGU SIMELANE-ZULU SAYS OTHERS MUST TAKE A LEAF FROM BETHESDA HOSPITAL’S BOOK*
05 JULY 2019
KWAZULU-Natal Health MEC Ms Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu has taken her hat off to the staff and management of Bhethesda Hospital at Umkhanyakude District for registering zero maternal deaths in the past financial year, and for establishing a human milk bank to help nourish babies whose mothers cannot breastfeed.
Maternal and child health are among the key health indicators and priorities of the South African government. In KwaZulu-Natal, the rate of in-facility maternal mortality has been reduced from 245 in 2017 to 204 in 2018. This is largely thanks to the promotion of early antenatal care for pregnant mothers, which ensures that underlying health challenges are detected and acted upon early. As at the end of June 2019, the number of mothers who lost their lives during childbirth stood at 62 across the province.
Despite the high prevalence of HIV in the Province, KZN has also managed to decrease the rate of mother-to-child HIV transmission from 20% in 2008 to the current 0.71%.
The 82 year-old, 230-bed Bethesda Hospital also became the first public hospital at UMkhanyakude District to introduce the human milk bank project in 2017, which is already running at 17 other hospitals in the province. Recipients of human breast milk include vulnerable pre-term and sick babies and special cases whereby mothers are unable to supply sufficient milk for their babies. This milk is donated by volunteer breastfeeding mothers who are not related to the recipient babies.
Mothers who wish to donate their excess breast milk undergo a screening procedure, which includes filling in a questionnaire and health screening. All donated breast milk is tested, pasteurised, and frozen and ready to be supplied to vulnerable babies in need.
MEC Simelane-Zulu was full of praise for Bethesda Hospital, commending them for their impressive maternal health outcomes; for keeping the facility clean; and for garnering positive client experience reviews.
She said: “Professionals, particularly in the health sector, are often demonised for not doing a good job, and when we are able to find a good story to tell, we must appreciate the work that they do. This is one of the hospitals that have managed to finish a whole year without losing a single mother.
“We hope that they will maintain the standards of the level of service that they are giving to our people, so that we can continue and benchmark on how they are running the hospital.
“They also run a milk bank, and it’s the first of its kind in this district. It’s something that other hospitals could learn from, and be able to implement going forward. Of course, it’s not a programme that you can run anyhow. You need to be strategic, plan for it, and be able to implement it throughout the province. All in all, we are very proud of them.”
Ms Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu KZN MEC for Health congratulates a hospital on zero maternal deaths, post 1722 births.