Midwife shortages at Dora Nginza Hospital put babies at risk

Issued by Jane Cowley, MPL โ€“ DA EC Shadow MEC for Health
29 Aug 2022 in Press Statements

Infant mortalities are set to continue in the maternity wards at the Dora Nginza Hospital in Nelson Mandela Bay, due to critical shortages of midwives and Enrolled Nursing Assistants (ENAs).

I shall write to the MEC for Health, Nomakosazana Meth, to strongly urge her to fill critical midwife vacancies at the Dora Nginza Hospital, and to prioritise the repair of theatres in the maternity ward so that infant mortalities can be significantly reduced.

Instead of having at least three midwives per three bed delivery room and a further midwife in the latent phase assessment area, there is only one midwife per delivery room per shift and there is no midwife in the assessment area.

Furthermore, the midwives also have to transfer newborn babies to the wards, as according to strict nursing protocols the ENAs may not do so. During those transfer periods, there is no midwife on hand in the delivery rooms.

To make matters worse, the two theatres in the maternity ward cannot be used as the air conditioners do not work and there is no autoclave to sterilise theatre equipment. This means that unborn babies showing signs of foetal distress have to be rushed to the second floor theatre, provided the unreliable lifts are working, where they will be delivered by Caesarean Section.

However, babies with prolapsed umbilical cords only have an eight minute window in which they must be delivered. For the midwives, holding a lifeless little body in their arms is all the more heart breaking because they know that with functional theatres in the maternity ward, these deaths would be avoided.

The Provincial Coordinating Management Committee must desist from approving cadre deployment posts, such as the 560 โ€œHuman Resource Internsโ€ in the province at a cost of more than R40 million, and focus on filling critical posts of midwives, enrolled nurses and enrolled nurse assistants, whose core business is to save lives.

The DA will continue to fight for the right of new mothers to experience the joy of holding a healthy little baby in their arms, instead of facing the devastation of losing a little life that they have nurtured for nine months.