Following a first-of-its-kind pediatric procedure at Rob Ferreira Hospital, infants and children in Mpumalanga will now be able to undergo these procedures at home.
Last Thursday, November 10, the Ministry of Health announced that the newly opened pediatric ward will perform a series of procedures including laparoscopic Nissen fundoplication, posterior sagittal anorectoplasty and bile duct cystectomy.
Nissen fundoplication and feeding gastrostomy are operations performed on children with cerebral palsy, as most of them cannot feed themselves and eventually develop reflux, which leads to aspiration pneumonia.
These cases have always been referred to Gauteng for further management, however, this will no longer be the case as Mpumalanga’s only pediatric surgeon for government hospitals, Dr Elliot Motloung, and a team of other professionals, such that Prof Nyaweleni Tshifularo, Dr Shamaman Harilal, Dr Kirthi Ramdhani, Dr Patrick Matloga and others are leading them now.
Parents of these children often spend more than an hour trying to feed them one meal at a time, but after this operation it takes 10 minutes and they are not hospitalized multiple times for aspiration pneumonia.
Motloung said they performed this operation using minimal access surgery as they did not have to cut the patient open as it was a laparoscopic surgeon. Since joining the hospital, Motloung has performed 84 surgeries in this pediatric ward. Most of these children come from rural areas of Mpumalanga.
“These services will ensure that these children do not die on the way to Gauteng or elsewhere, trying to get a bed. This means a lot to them as most of them come from rural areas and their parents do not have the resources to have them operated.
Health MEC Sasekani Manzini said one might wonder why they’re so excited and what’s so special about pediatric surgery.
“Because children are not small adults, they have unique issues that require very specific surgical management. Their physiology is different, and since they are still developing, their organs are not always exactly in the same place as those of adults. They don’t vote either, so we have another vital role: to be their advocates for the best surgical care in the world. If health care is a social good that should be provided to every citizen, then it must start with children.
Manzini said they welcomed this generous donation from Pediatric Care Africa and the Lowveld community, which helped with the renovation project to make the pediatric surgery ward conducive and child-friendly.
Pediatric Care Africa founder Dr Andre Hattingh said the only way to keep a good surgeon here is to give them the facility to work in. “We came together as a community in Mpumalanga. We painted the place and repaired the toilets, and the locals did the artwork and donated furniture.
“It’s not the end of the story, but the beginning, because we have to have sustainability.”