There were 145 babies who were abandoned by their mothers at various Gauteng hospitals last year.
This was revealed by Gauteng health MEC Nomathemba Mokgethi in a written reply to questions posed by the Democratic Alliance (DA) in the provincial legislature.
According to Mokgethi, Thelle Mogoerane Regional Hospital in Vosloorus, Ekurhuleni, had 51 abandoned babies in 2020.
Other hospitals with high number of abandoned babies were Leratong Hospital (14), Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital (13), Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital (12), Tembisa Hospital (10) and Tambo Memorial Hospital ( five).
Reasons for babies being abandoned
The provincial health department found that the babies were abandoned by their mothers due to socio-economic challenges, relationship problems and a lack of emotional or financial support from the father of the baby.
The other reasons included unwanted pregnancies/unplanned pregnancies, mothers who gave birth to disabled babies and didn’t want them, teenage motherhood and undocumented and foreign mothers.
Mental illness and substance abuse also contributed to the high number of babies being abandoned.
To address this challenge, Mokgethi said hospital social workers assisted nurses to identify new mothers at risk for abandonment, and they try to get accurate contact numbers from the mothers.
Other interventions included hospitals providing a donation of a basic pack of clothes and toiletries for the newborn and a “dignity pack”, as well as basic items for the mother.
Calls for further interventions
DA MPL and spokesperson for health in Gauteng, Jack Bloom, said it was “immensely distressing” that there were so many abandoned babies in 2020 due to deep-rooted social problems.
He called for the provincial government to strengthen its support programmes for new mothers who are at risk of abandoning their babies.
“There are also babies who are abandoned outside hospitals who do not survive. There are worthy non-governmental organisations who do good work in this area,” Bloom said in a statement.
Compiled by Thapelo Lekabe