145 abandoned babies at Gauteng hospitals last year

13 Oct 2021 in Press Statements

Last year was a bad year for abandoned babies in Gauteng, with 145 babies left without their mothers at Gauteng public hospitals.

This is disclosed by Gauteng Health MEC Nomathemba Mokgethi in a written reply to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature.

Thelle Moegerane Hospital in Vosloorus in 2020 had 51 abandoned babies in 2020, and other hospitals with large numbers of abandoned babies were as follows:

Leratong Hospital – 14 babies

Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Hospital – 13 babies

Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital – 12 babies

Tembisa Hospital – 10 babies

Tambo Memorial – 5 babies

According to Mokgethi, the reasons for abandoned babies include the following:

  • The baby is disabled
  • The mother is a teenager
  • Unwanted pregnancies/unplanned pregnancies
  • Lack of support (emotional/financial) from the father of the baby
  • Socio economic issues
  • Undocumented and foreign mothers
  • Mental illness
  • Substance abuse
  • Relationship problems

Mokgethi says that hospital social workers assist nurses to identify new mothers at risk for abandonment, and they try to get accurate contact numbers for the mothers. They can also provide a donation of basic pack of clothes and toiletries for the newborn and a dignity pack and basic items for the mother.

It is immensely distressing that there are so many abandoned babies due to deep-rooted problems in our society. There are also babies who are abandoned outside hospitals who do not survive.

There are worthy NGOs who do good work in this area. The support options for new mothers at risk should be strengthened and communicated widely so that no mother ever feels forced to leave her child for social reasons.