SEOUL, Oct. 31 (Korea Bizwire) – The sanitation levels of postnatal care centers have been called into question, after an October 30 disclosure of a government report by the Health and Welfare Committee revealed 489 mothers and newborns were infected at such facilities last year. With 277 cases reported in the first half of 2017, the committee expects the annual total to reach 500 by the end of the year.
The most common infection last year was rotavirus (138 cases). Caused by a virus that can induce gastroenteritis with symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea, the disease can be transported through contaminated water, various environmental objects or unwashed hands and is particularly contagious to those with a weakened immune system. The majority of children below the age of five are heavily susceptible to catching the disease. Though unlikely, in rare cases the infection can be fatal.
Newborns brought to postnatal care centers from the hospital may often be carrying pathogens, which is why they need to be kept in a separate environment where the temperature is carefully regulated, and soiled diapers well disposed of. However, many centers are believed to carry out these procedures as a mere formality only.
In addition, newborns’ cradles are required to be set 90 cm apart from each other, and each child is to be provided with 1.7 square meters of space to guard against the spread of diseases, another measure believed to be lacking at many facilities.
Health and Welfare Committee member Nam Im-soon said, “Oversight of privately-run postnatal care centers must become more thorough,” after she pointed out that infections had increased nearly fivefold from 2013 to 2016.
Postnatal care centers have become an indelible part of the postpartum process for many women; 46.6 percent of all women stayed at one of the 614 postnatal care centers nationwide after childbirth.
Certain voices criticizing centers for being too expensive have also been raised. Data showed that certain facilities located in heavily urban, downtown areas like Gangnam can charge up to 20 million won for a two-week stay. In contrast, the most modestly priced center cost 700,000 won for the same two weeks.
On average, the price of a two-week stay was 2.34 million won. Heavily populated areas like Seoul (3.14 million won) and Gyeonggi Province (2.34 million won) had higher fees, while the outer provinces like North and South Jeolla (1.23 million won, 1.57 million won) that are less densely populated were more modestly priced.
Lina Jang (firstname.lastname@example.org)