Gauteng plans to decrease unwanted pregnancies

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Pretoria – The Gauteng Department of Health plans to increase the promotion of contraceptive services and post-abortion care to decrease the demand in unplanned pregnancies.

In a statement on Monday, the department said this will be done through intensive training of all professional health workers on Long Acting Reversible Contraception.

According to Gauteng Health MEC Gwen Ramokgopa, there has been a slight increase in the number of legal abortions performed in Gauteng public hospitals and clinics, from 15 352 to 16 736. Of these, about 10 700 were done at hospitals while clinics performed about 6 036.

“The first trimester terminations are available in the Community Health Centres and communities are aware of these services.

“The challenge is the limited number of doctors trained to perform second trimester termination of pregnancy at hospital level,” said MEC Ramokgopa.

She said the department was planning to train more doctors to provide second trimester termination of pregnancy to increase the number of hospitals providing the service.

Mental health awareness

The department said MEC Ramokgopa will also intensify the departmental efforts on mental health promotion to raise awareness, strengthen prevention of mental illness and ensure additional capacity to support mental health users in the province. 

“An advertisement will be issued for members of the public with required skills as per the Mental Health Act of 2002, to apply to be appointed on the Mental Health Review Board.

“The reconstitution of the Mental Health Review Board will strengthen oversight and improve the protection of the rights of Mental Health Users in keeping with the Act,” said the department.

The department said extra security has been placed on a 24 hours basis at ward entrances and burglar bars installed at Bheki Mlangeni Regional wards that admits acute Mental Health Patients.

This follows three incidents involving a 34-year-old psychiatry patient, who died after jumping out of the bathroom window in July 2016; a 13-year-old patient sustaining wrist injuries from jumping out of the balcony on 24 December 2016; and a 23-year-old patient sustaining head injuries after storming out of the ward towards the second floor balcony in January this year.

The department said it has allocated two sessional doctors to render psychiatric services at the hospital and 12 beds have been added to accommodate psychiatric patients. 

“Further steps have been taken to allocate more personnel to the psychiatry ward. This includes the identification of all trained psychiatric nurses in the hospital being seconded to the ward as well as training for medical employees in casualty on how to take care of patients with acute psychosis.”

Medicine shortages at South Rand Hospital

Where there is a shortage of specific medicines which are on the Essential Medicines List, the department said it will allow for alternative medicines to be used.

The department said the shortages experienced by South Rand Hospital in 2016 did not have any adverse effects on patient care as alternatives were made.

The hospital had shortages in Colchicine 0.5 mg, Prednisone 5mg tablets, Benzyl Penicillin injection, Chlorhexidine Gluconate 4% solution 500ml, Pantoprazole 40mg injection, Enalapril 10 and 20mg tablets, Risperidone 1 and 2mg tablets.

“The reasons for shortages vary. In the case of Colchicine medications this was due to a tender not being awarded as there was no supplier who bid for the product. For Benzyl, the item was not available from the sole supplier and for Chlorhexidine Gluconate, the contracted supplier could not supply leading to stock being procured through a quotation system.

“The contracted suppliers of Pantoprazole, Enalapril and Risperidone did not have stock but there were alternatives available.”

Steve Biko Academic Hospital

The department said the Steve Biko Academic Hospital is one of the centres of excellence in the province with a total number of 3 922 staff members across all categories.

The hospital currently has about 214 vacant vacancies including 30 medical doctors and specialists, 83 Nurses, 24 Allied Health Professionals, two Management and 75 Support Staff. 

In 2016, the hospital lost about 213 staff members in the various categories due to reasons of better remuneration elsewhere, high workload and normal attrition.

The MEC appraised the legislature on these measures in answering questions to the legislature. -