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.
For decades, most stories from Cape Town’s District Six started with – “I was born at Peninsula Maternity Hospital!” The Peninsula Maternity Hospital was established in 1921 as a training hospital specialising in midwifery. It closed down in 1992. On the day of its closure, a group of nurses climbed up to the hospital’s roof to take a last look at Table Mountain and the surrounds where they served so many. Among them was sister Patience Watlington, or Sr Wattie, as many referred to her. Biénne Huisman sat down with the 80-year-old nursing veteran as she reflected on life as a midwife in District Six.
Research released on Wednesday shows a significant drop in antenatal and follow-up visits to health facilities during South Africa’s COVID-19 lockdown. To help understand these statistics, Tiyese Jeranji spoke to some health workers and new and expecting mothers about being pregnant in a pandemic.