According to reports, Professor Glenda Gray, Chair of the SA Medical Research Council, alleged that there is an increase in cases of malnutrition at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital “for the first time”.
Speaking on the effects of the lockdown regulations, Gray was quoted saying that “concerns were raised in the first week of May 2020 regarding the number of admissions for acute malnutrition, which appeared to be on the increase.”
She continued saying, “The Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital still sees admissions for malnutrition. The increase in the cases seen in the first week of May needs to be closely monitored.”
However, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize was critical of the malnutrition claim, condemning Gray for using “anecdotal evidence [which] ends up causing unnecessary anxiety to our citizens”.
“There has been a reduction in the number of cases of malnutrition that have been seen at Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital POPD and the total admissions during the month of March and April 2020, when compared to the previous 4 years.”
“To illustrate this, in April 2019 there were 2,885 patients seen and 500 admissions. However, in April 2020 there were 834 patients seen and 146 admissions.”
“I have been advised by the department’s officials that at a subsequent COVID-19 Ministerial Advisory Committee meeting, Prof Velaphi, the Head of Paediatrics at the hospital, raised this concern and asked why Prof Gray would mislead the public by giving inaccurate information. In response, Prof Gray merely stated that she had relied on what she had heard from other colleagues.” However, who these colleagues were, had not been disclosed.
Prof Gray responded, telling News24, “I would like to be wrong about this. Every admission for malnutrition is a tragedy, the increases in the first week of May is hopefully an unrelated aberration and it does not continue.”