Mother and child care services 'insufficient to save lives' - HSRC report

Chris Bateman


In spite of 77% of infants being born in hospital with the help of a skilled birth attendant,1 ‘massive problems’ with South Africa’s maternal and child health services contribute to 23 000 stillbirths and a neonatal mortality rate of 21 per 1 000 live births yearly.

Excluding HIV, the major causes of these deaths (reported in 2008) were preterm birth complications (40%), birth asphyxia (23%), infections (19%) and congenital abnormalities (10%).

The poor quality of maternal and child health care was singled out by the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC)’s principal investigator, Dr Olive Shisana, in presenting her team’s latest household survey findings in Cape Town in mid-May.
The HSRC report said that although facilities were available and most women had access to them, ‘it appears the services provided are insufficient to save the lives of these babies’. It was ‘critical’ that standards for maternal health and newborn care be improved as part of the health department’s 10-point plan, with more financial resources provided. Serious inadequacies included guidelines not followed, inadequate equipment and a lack of doctors at a time when they were most needed.
Shisana described the problems as ‘massive’.

Author's affiliations

Chris Bateman, HMPG

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Infant mortality, HIV/AIDS, children

Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2010;100(7):406-408.

Article History

Date submitted: 2010-05-27
Date published: 2010-07-02

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