Committee Report on the oversight visit to Charlotte Maxeke Hospital

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Health

19 July 2010
Chairperson: Mr B Goqwana (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee met to consider its report on the visit to Charlotte Maxeke Hospital and to adopt its programme for the third term.

The Committee had decided to visit the hospital following the deaths of six infants due to an outbreak of diarrhoea in the neonatal ward in May this year. The report included a review of the neonatal facilities as well as the Committee's recommendations.

Members expressed concern about the levels of primary health care in the country and stated that this needed to be prioritised by the national government. In addition, they asked the following questions:

• what were the conditions of the mothers during antenatal care?
•what was the cause of the high number of pre-term births and was HIV status a factor?
•were the babies delivered in the hospital and had mothers attended antenatal classes?
• what was the ratio of booked to un-booked patients?
•was the overcrowding in the hospital was due to poor planning?
•was there a side ward for neonatal as they were susceptible to infections.
•why was there such a high level of formula feeding? and was breast feeding encouraged to avoid infections?
•was the equipment used to feed infants properly sterilised?

The Chairperson informed Members that the statistics of pre-term births were not higher than in other hospitals and the viral outbreak had occurred in the winter months when viruses were especially active.

The Committee noted that this was a preliminary report and adopted it with amendments.


Meeting report

Committee Report on the oversight visit to Charlotte Maxeke Hospital
The Chairperson tabled the report on the Committee’s oversight visit to Charlotte Maxeke Hospital and gave Members an opportunity to review it. The Committee had decided to visit the hospital following the deaths of six infants due to an outbreak of diarrhoea in the neonatal ward in May this year. The report included a review of the neonatal facilities as well as the Committee's recommendations.

Ms E More (DA) confirmed that the report was an accurate and reliable account of the visit. In addition, she indicated that the hospital staff had reacted proactively to the situation and that the Committee was still awaiting a report from the Department of Health about how the virus was introduced. Finally, she stated that more funding was required for primary health care and the education of parents.

Ms A Luthuli (ANC) expressed her concerns about the failure of basic health care.

The Chairperson clarified that the focus of the visit had been on hygiene conditions at the hospital and that this report related specifically to the incident at Charlotte Maxeke Hospital.

Ms M Segale-Diswai (ANC) noted that there were further unanswered questions regarding the deaths such as
• what were the conditions of the mothers during antenatal care?
•what was the cause of the high number of pre-term births and was HIV status a factor?
•were the babies delivered in the hospital and had mothers attended antenatal classes?
• what was the ratio of booked to un-booked patients?

In addition, Ms Segale-Diswai emphasised the importance of primary health care, stating that sufficient and effective healthcare could reduce the number of premature births. Lastly, she questioned the conditions in national hospitals and expressed a need for effective management of institutions.

The Chairperson stated that all questions would be responded to after Members had expressed their opinion and that there was a need to add to the recommendations.

Ms T Kenye (ANC) raised four issues. Firstly, she questioned whether the overcrowding in the hospital was due to poor planning. Secondly, she asked whether there was a side ward for neonatal as they were susceptible to infections. Thirdly, she examined why there was such a high level of formula feeding and whether breast feeding was being encouraged to avoid infections. Lastly, she referred to a statement in the report that a 'jug of cloudy water' was used to clean bottles. This implied that the equipment used to feed infants was not properly sterilised.

The Chairperson re-iterated that this visit was a direct result of the deaths of six infants in the ward. The statistics of pre-term births were not higher than in other hospitals and the viral outbreak had occurred in the winter months when viruses were especially active.

Ms More proposed that the following points be added to the recommendations:
•All visitors to the ward, including parents, must be given protective clothing to wear when entering the ward and that mothers be monitored at feed times.
•Each ward must have its own milk room to eradicate the need to transport bottles through the hospital.

Also, Ms More highlighted the difference between cleanliness and hygiene stating that the former did not necessarily imply that the latter was sufficient. Finally she agreed that the National Government needed to prioritise and promote primary health care and that breast milk resulted in lower levels of infection and was more cost effective.

Ms Kenye repeated her question concerning the “jug of cloudy water” and asked about the sterilisation methods at the hospital.

The Chairperson replied that that the statement would need to be reviewed and emphasised that this tragedy was not simply the fault of the nurses or poor hygiene. The issue of overcrowding in the ward was largely due to patients arriving that had not been referred.

Mr E Sulliman (ANC) asked for confirmation that this was a preliminary report.

The Chairperson confirmed that this was the case.

The report was adopted with amendments.

Consideration and Adoption of Committee Programme
The Chairperson asked Members to consider the Committee’s Programme for the third term.

Ms Segale-Diswai requested time to review the programme and present suggestions. Therefore, she asked whether the programme could be accepted at the next meeting.

The Chairperson replied that the Committee was under pressure to submit the programme before then.

Mr Sulliman said that the Committee needed to identify which Members would be attending the conference on Traditional Medicine.

Ms Segale-Diswai suggested that the Committee should visit new hospitals and clinics that were built during and just prior to the World Cup.

The Committee agreed to this proposal.

The Chairperson said that all proposed changes needed to be made within the proposed framework of the programme.

The Committee secretary announced that the members to attend the Traditional Medicine Conference had been determined as follows:
The Chairperson (ANC)
Ms A Luthuli (ANC)
Mr M Waters (DA)
Mr D Kganare (COPE)

The programme was adopted.

The meeting was adjourned.

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