Babies born 'in distress' at Limpopo centre: 'Pure lies', says health department

08 November 2018 - 12:14 By Iavan Pijoos
Broken tap and unsanitised basin as seen at the Mookgopong Health Centre in Limpopo.
Broken tap and unsanitised basin as seen at the Mookgopong Health Centre in Limpopo.
Image: Lindy Wilson

A Limpopo health care centre is so ill-equipped that nurses at times have to use their cellphones for lighting because of a malfunctioning generator, says a member of parliament.

Democratic Alliance MP Lindy Wilson said they had visited the Mookgopong Health Centre on Wednesday.

However, her assessment has been rejected by the provincial health department as being  baseless.

Wilson said during their visit to the centre, they discovered that power outages and malfunctioning equipment including the generator had caused at least three babies to be born "in distress".

Wilson said the sonar and suction machine were not working, and that nurses had to use their cell phones as light sources.

She said there were also no fetal monitor and incubator available.

"The babies were born in torture. When a baby is born and is born in distress, you can imagine," she asserted.

The department is appalled by the continuous antics by the DA of concocting untrue statements every time they visit our facilities in the name of oversight
Neil Shikwambana

"When one of the babies was born, it was transferred from the health centre to a nearby hospital and died on the way," Wilson said.

Describing the state of the facility during her inspection visit, she said: "Nothing there is working. Two patients were in the emergency centre both on drips, both drips ran out and there was no one in the emergency rooms.

"I went in and picked up syringes, scalpels, walked out and no one picked up. Drugs were lying on the tables, but no staff in sight," she said.  

Wilson called on the Limpopo department of health to make an urgent intervention into conditions at the clinic.

The state of a toilet at the Mookgopong Health Centre in Limpopo.
The state of a toilet at the Mookgopong Health Centre in Limpopo.
Image: Lindy Wilson

Limpopo department of health spokesperson Neil Shikwambana said claims made by Wilson were "false, baseless and unfounded".

"These are pure lies because there has not been a single baby that has died after birth in that facility. There has not been a baby that was born with complications and had to be referred to hospital.

"So [the] DA is actually spreading falsehood in claiming that there is a baby who died in transit to hospital from Mookgophong Clinic," Shikwambana said.  

Shikwambana said the facility has a functional stand-by generator for power outages and that the fetal monitors, incubator and two baby warmers were all in good and working condition.

"So the only crisis in that facility exists in the imagination of the DA representative that visited the facility."

He also denied claims by Wilson that the centre had a staff shortage and was without analgesics and paediatric antibiotics.

Shikwambana said the centre had no resident doctor, but one who visited the centre on a scheduled basis.

"The department is appalled by the continuous antics by the DA of concocting untrue statements every time they visit our facilities in the name of oversight.

"We believe this undesired and reckless electioneering stunts unnecessarily casts aspersions on the work of the department and cause unnecessary panic and alarm to communities. Genuine oversight must be motivated by the need to improve the service," he said.


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