The SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) is expected to
conduct a site inspection at Thelle Mogoerane Hospital in Vosloorus,
Johannesburg following the recent outbreak of Klebsiella pneumonia which
claimed the lives of six newborn babies.

The commission’s Gauteng manager Buang Jones told News24 that the outbreak constituted a prima facie violation of the right to
access to healthcare. Health Minister, Aaron Motsoaledi has blamed overcrowding
for the deaths. According to initial findings by the National Institute for
Communicable Diseases (NICD), infection control measures were breached due to
overcrowding after up to 90 babies were placed in the neonatal ward that only
has space for 60.

The DA’s shadow Minister of Health in Gauteng, Jack Bloom
earlier said that the now suspended CEO of the hospital, Nomonde Mqhayi-Mbambo
was warned about the infection risks in the neonatal ward earlier this year but
failed to take action. He cited a memorandum by staff of the neonatal ward in
May that detailed a gross shortage of nurses, severe overcrowding, lack of
equipment and poor working conditions, warning that the situation could
increase the risk of nosocomial infections.

Jones said the SAHRC’s inspection will be aimed at assessing
the state of the hospital in relation to the allegations and meeting with the acting
CEO Dr Jatin Ganda and the hospital’s management.

enterocolitis outbreak

Meanwhile the NICD has released an update on the outbreak of
necrotising enterocolitis (NEC) at a Gauteng hospital which claimed the lives
of nine babies. A total of 42 cases have been reported in the hospital’s
neonatal ward from March to August this year.

Of the reported 42 cases 38 (90.5%) were premature, four
(9.5%) full-term babies, and 64% were males.

“While several pathogens were isolated from blood cultures,
all stool samples were negative for enteric bacteria and viruses tested. 79% of
the cases had a low birth weight of under 1500g, 21% had a birth weight of over
1500g and 33% were fed breast-milk exclusively. All the cases were definite NEC
cases, stage II A-B and III A-B, respectively,” the NICD says in a statement.

While the source of the outbreak has not been confirmed, the
institute says it is concerned about the presence of Bacillus and Streptococcus
species in mixed and dry powder milk formula (opened and unopened) found at the
hospital but that toxin production tests have not been done.

The NICD has recommended further laboratory investigation
(bacterial quantification and toxin test) on opened and unopened milk formula
to establish if it meets the international and national acceptable standards.