Child Protection Day – 183 children treated by Child Protection Services | Western Cape Government



Child Protection Day – 183 children treated by Child Protection Services

1 June 2023

Child Protection Day – 183 children treated by Child Protection Services in Red Cross Hospital in 2023 to date

Today, Western Cape Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr Nomafrench Mbombo, observed Child Protection Day with Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital, where it was highlighted that 183 children had been treated by Child Protection Services (CPS) between 1 January and 26 May this year.

These cases relate to different types of abuse, in which almost 120 of these were due to physical abuse or neglect. More than 40% of the children treated by CPS were between the ages of 1-5 years.

However, CPS does not solely identify abuse; it is also about identifying the children who are at risk as well as establishing interventions to promote health & safety. By adopting this approach, the facility is able to promote the well-being of children and also ensure that the clinical practices prevent unnecessary trauma.

During the visit, CPS outlined that their operations are also under pressure. As with all of our public health facilities, there is an increased burden of societal ills – particularly those pertaining to substance abuse and poverty – which places extra demand on the health care system. Coupled to this, the facility outlined that it experiences delays with its in-patient discharge process which is dependent on external service providers. This is a crucial aspect as the hospital closely works with these stakeholders, specifically when it comes to handing over of such cases for further management or investigation by social workers.

Nonetheless, the hospital has implemented a Child Protection Improvement Project to ensure that their services remain impactful. This will include:

  • Training all hospital staff to raise awareness and improve skills needed for assessing and managing abuse.
  • Developing a child protection training programme.
  • Introducing the new Philisa Child Protection Unit (CPU) in order to provide a child-friendly space for enhanced examination and investigation.
  • Integrating various services better and clarifying the pathways of care, including other role players outside of the hospital.

Professor Heloise Buys, Head of Clinical Unit Ambulatory and Emergency Paediatrics, stated: “Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital is one of the largest stand-alone dedicated children's hospitals in sub-Saharan Africa, and we pride ourselves in being a centre of excellence offering up to quaternary child and adolescent services to the children of the Western Cape. Our communities expect us to lead and hold us accountable to providing a world class comprehensive service to abused children from our drainage communities.”

“Regarding the impact on the Hospital and Philisa, our Child Protection Unit, we have to consider that the children's hospital will be fulfilling its mandate by serving all children to the best of our ability with the highest possible standards of holistic care. This will promote social responsiveness, wellness and healing for abused children. All of this enhances the hospital as an inclusive and fully effective children's institution in providing not just physical healing, but also focusing on the mental health aspects by ensuring professional counselling for abused children and their families.”

Dr Anita Parbhoo, CEO of Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital, added: “Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital is a dedicated child health institution that provides comprehensive paediatric services with a full range of sub-specialties at quaternary, tertiary and secondary levels of care. In 2022, our facility treated approximately 1 553 children a month, all of whom require different forms and levels of care and treatment.”

“Today marks an important day for the hospital as we observe Child Protection Week and draw attention to a much-needed service. 183 Child Protection Service (CPS) cases were presented from 1 January 2023 to 26 May 2023, raising the alarm on how important child protection services are in our communities. The hospital is committed to working with others to strengthen Child Protection Services in the Western Cape and strives to make a difference in the lives of those most vulnerable.”

Minister Mbombo concluded by saying: “As the Department of Health and Wellness, we will continue to ensure that our facilities provide quality healthcare for children and that we further collaborate with other departments and NGOs. This also requires communities and adults also fulfilling their respective roles in our children’s lives, as it truly does take a village to raise a child. Let us work together for the wellbeing of our young ones, both those in the present and the future!” 

Listen to Western Cape Minister of Health and Wellness Dr Nomafrench Mbombo's statement on Child Protection Day at Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital: