Deputy Minister Fatima Chohan visits Tygerberg Hospital, 1 Jan

Home Affairs Deputy Minister to handover birth certificates and octopals to premature babies during New Year's Day visit to Tygerberg Hospital.

The Deputy Minister of Home Affairs, Ms Fatima Chohan, will visit Tygerberg Hospital between 10am and 11am on 1 January 2019 to address hospital management, handover birth certificates to the parents of new born babies and present the innovative octopals to at least 20 premature babies.

The octopals are essentially crocheted items that create a more comforting and soothing environment for premature babies and that help enhance their growth and healing process and make their anxious parents feel more secure, according to Octopus for a Preemie SA organisation.

This imaginative idea originated in Demark in 2013, where doctors observed premature babies with their crocheted toys. The babies that cradled their octopus (or sometimes called octopals) had overall health improvements with their breathing, regular heartbeat, strong oxygen blood levels, and were less bothered by the various monitors and IVs, pulling on and cuddling the tentacles instead of their tubes. Overall, the presence of the tiny crochet toy acted as a great calming effect on the babies with the tentacles reminding them most of their mother's umbilical cord, says OFP SA.

The initiative was a response to the large number of premature babies born each year in the world, said to number around 15 million.

A group of young South Africans has taken up this campaign and are calling on fellow South Africans to help with this life-changing process for premature children and their families, by crocheting an octopal.

The Deputy Ministry of Home Affairs intends supporting the campaign by linking it to its Good Citizenship campaign conducted nationwide and aimed at promoting citizenship, identity and human rights, especially among vulnerable sectors.

The Deputy Ministry will help to facilitate the handing over of many more octopals over the coming months as the Department of Home Affairs continues with its birth registration processes at more than 300 health facilities countrywide.

The Deputy Minister is keen to build this partnership with the young South Africans who have taken this incredible initiative. This is in line with many other partnerships forged in various parts of the country over the past few years in which the Deputy Ministry works with sectors or organisations to promote the idea of good citizenship in theory and practice.

The Deputy Minister will be available to interact with the media during the course of the programme. All media are welcome to attend. You can report to the main entrance of Tygerberg Hospital before 10am and security will direct you to the venue where you will be met by Home Affairs officials. If you are available to attend, please confirm with me before the end of day.

Source: Government of South Africa