The unit provides preventative and curative medical services for all children under the age of 13. The surgical department sees children with surgical-related conditions. The unit has out patient services at the Mother & Child Heath Clinic (MCH), Emergency Room, and private Out Patient Department (OPD), as well as in patient services in the Children’s Ward, the special care nursery (SCN), and the private ward.
Many of the patients in the children’s ward are as young as 3 months old. The main reasons for admission include; conditions associated with HIV/AIDS such as gastroenteritis or diarrhea, acute respiratory infection, tuberculosis and pneumonia, malnutrition, typhoid, and meningitis. On average 1 child per day dies in this ward, dehydration is the main cause of death.
Through the support of UNICEF and the Elisabeth Glyser Paediatrics AIDS Foundation (EGPAF), the PMTCT program has been extended and three new rooms built in the MCH department, thus more children are now receiving antiretroviral treatment. UNICEF is also assisting the hospital to implement a feeding program for severely malnourished infants and children under 5. Finally, through the assistance of UNICEF neonatal circumcisions services have been expanded at the hospital and a project aimed at reducing deaths in the special care nursery has commenced. The results have been very noticeable.
Special Care Nursery (SCN)
On average two of the babies born at the hospital each day are admitted to the Special Care Nursery. Most of the admissions are due to premature births as their mothers had complications during pregnancy or they are HIV+. In many of the cases the babies cannot breath without the aid of a respirator and their weight is dangerously low. The main reasons for admission to the SCN, in order, are prematurity, neonatal infection, then perinatal asphyxia.
With rising unemployment and ill health due to HIV/AIDS, there has been an increase in the number of mothers abandoning their babies. These babies are cared for in the Special Care Nursery until foster parents are found or an orphanage accepts them.