Overcrowding of patients and staff shortages are some of the challenges facing Kalafong Hospital in Atteridgeville west of Pretoria.

The hospital’s reputation of low infant mortality and care for patients could be the reason for attracting both locals and patients from Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries to seek health care at the facility.

This is despite the maternity unit currently experiencing shortages of beds. The situation compels patients to sleep on the floor and having to bring their own blankets in some cases. The challenges at Kalafong Hospital emerged during a special visit by the Gauteng Health MEC, Dr Gwen Ramokgopa.

She toured the hospital’s maternity ward as part of Women’s Month activities and Breast Feeding Week.

“They are so helpful they even teach us how to breast feed our babies. In the morning they clean and change everything, it’s always clean,” says one of the patients.

Ramokgopa decried the shortage of blankets that affects mostly pregnant women and their new born babies.

Staff members attributed the shortage to the outsourcing of the laundry service by the department.

Ramokgopa says the hospital management is in the process of filling vacant posts amongst others.

“We’ve just approved head of this unit and post of optician at Pretoria West Hospital. But ultimately, we aim to expand the maternity unit which will deal with minor ailments and also pregnancies that are not complicated and so the hospital is highly rated so that it’s highly reserved for high care and complications.”

One of the doctors at the hospital’s maternity unit, Dr Edwin Mnisi says overcrowding is their biggest challenge at the moment.

“Sometimes we have patients who sleep on the floor and we do not have space to accommodate them. I think that’s our biggest issue at the moment. But as far as the staff is concerned, we are trying our best to work with the little that we have.”

The hospital admits a patient ratio of 70% foreign nationals and 30% locals on a monthly basis.

Ramokgopa urged other African leaders to prioritise the wellbeing of their nations. She says most mothers on the SADC region prefer giving birth at South Africa’s healthcare facilities.

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