The modernist five-storey Mowbray Maternity Hospital sits on a swathe of Cape Town’s earliest contested colonial farm land, earmarked by Jan Van Riebeeck in 1657. Biénne Huisman visited the hospital to learn about its history and its continuing role in helping mothers and babies in the 21st century.
Earlier this month the world celebrated breastfeeding week. To improve infant nutrition by 2025, the United Nations set targets to eliminate malnutrition and increase breastfeeding rates to at least 50% – targets that South Africa also subscribes to. In South Africa, however, often mothers are poor, unemployed, and hungry – all factors impacting their ability to breastfeed and, ultimately, the nutrition their babies receive. As Women’s Month draws to a close, Refilwe Mochoari looked at the nuances of this challenge in the Free State, where mothers often face a litany of socio-economic challenges and asks how government can support these mothers better.
Even in 2023, infants under five years in the Free State are still dying from a lack of healthy food. From April to June this year, 21 children in the province died of severe acute malnutrition and one died of moderate acute malnutrition. Refilwe Mochoari unpacks the numbers and asks government about its plans to address what at least one expert is calling a ‘crisis’.
The 11th SA AIDS conference, recently held in Durban, highlighted the worrying fact that key HIV numbers such as treatment coverage are much lower in children than in adults. But as Elri Voigt reports, conference delegates also heard about new treatments and guidelines that will make life easier for kids and the exciting potential of several new long-acting experimental treatments.
In 1984, the then-head of Brooklyn Chest TB Hospital, Dr David Jenkin lamented inadequate services for TB patients, writing that “it is unflattering to realize that only war and pestilence appear able to bring more beds for TB sufferers”. Almost 40 years later, despite major scientific advances, TB hospitals like Brooklyn Chest remain important for treating complicated forms of the disease, where specialised healthcare staff can monitor medication interactions and side-effects. Biénne Huisman takes a look back at the hospital’s 151-year history and the difference it is making in the lives of children with TB today.
A landmark global observational study found that many neonates get life-threatening bloodstream infections, or sepsis, and are dying because the antibiotics used to treat them are not effective. Sepsis affects up to 3 million babies a year globally and the study authors estimate that 214 000 newborns die every year from sepsis that has become antibiotic resistant – mainly in low- to middle-income countries. Adele Baleta reports.
So far this year the National Institute for Communicable Diseases has issued reports on three different outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases – measles, mumps, and diphtheria. Elri Voigt spoke to local experts about these outbreaks and what it tells us about the country’s immunisation programme and the potential for future outbreaks.
South Africa is currently observing Child Protection Week to shine a spotlight on the rights of children, as enshrined in the Constitution and the Children’s Act. The campaign aims to ensure the rights, safety, and well-being of children – aiming to foster a safer environment. To foster a safe environment, however, children must not only feel physically safe but also emotionally safe. Yet teenagers often do not have a safe space to speak to trusted people about the confusion they face around their gender, writes Kholofelo Mphahlele.
In a landmark court decision, the Gauteng High Court recently confirmed the rights of all pregnant and lactating women and children under age six to access services for free at all levels of care. The court order sets a good precedent for migrant health rights going forward, writes Mbali Baduza and Kholofelo Mphahlele as they explain the build-up to the court proceedings and why this is significant for re-affirming the right to access to healthcare for all in terms of section27 of the Constitution.
The first vaccine to prevent severe lung infections, including pneumonia, in infants will save thousands of lives and reduce the burden on health systems of low- to middle-income countries, researchers say. Adele Baleta reports.
The scientific evidence that exclusive breastfeeding is best for infants is very strong. Yet, some baby milk formula companies continue to use questionable methods to create demand for their products, thereby undermining breastfeeding. Elsabé Brits explores this and spoke to experts based on a series of articles published in The Lancet.
Unless we get ahead of both the climate crisis and the current levels of pervasive injustice, we will never be able to catch up – even if the National Health Insurance Project achieves what it originally intended, argues Professor Louis Reynolds.