The Gauteng Health Department has expressed concern over the spate of abandoned babies after birth.
This year alone, 118 babies were left at various public hospitals in the province.
Chief reasons cited range from teenage mothers being fearful of their parents, unwanted and unplanned pregnancies to lack of immediate basic supplies of clothes and toiletries for the mother and the newborn upon discharge, the Gauteng Health Department said.
Also, some mothers lack emotional, financial and social support from the father, while others are undocumented migrants.
The department said the worst affected hospitals include Carletonville and Leratong, which reported 19 incidents each and Far East Rand with 13 cases. Both Tembisa and Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital recorded 10 cases each.
The department said the time spent in hospital for the babies range from a week to a month or longer depending on the medical condition.
However, another factor is how long social workers can facilitate pre-statutory processes for the transfer of the baby to an accredited child protection organisation in terms of the Children’s Act 38 of 2005, the department explained.
The department said the hospital social workers are working tirelessly in conducting education awareness campaigns with pregnant mothers to reduce child abandonment.
This includes teaching them about various options that are available to them such as adoption, temporal and foster care.
“Through networking with child protection organisation, hospital social worker are able to provide mothers at risk for abandonment basic material support for both mother and child.”
The department said nurses are now able to identify expectant and new mothers who are likely to abandon their babies and refer them to social workers for psychoeducation, counselling and other care.
Where the mother agrees to take care of the baby, the new mom is then referred to a child protection organisation for further support