Karachi: Steps being planned to avert baby thefts
KARACHI: Sindh Health Minister Dr Saghir Ahmad has said that a protocol is being developed to avert thefts and interchanges of newborns at government hospitals, in addition to improving the overall security system there.
Talking to newsmen at his office on Thursday, the health minister said that the recent theft of a newborn girl in the Sindh Government Hospital, New Karachi, and her recovery through the intervention of the provincial home minister had provided enough room for the health affairs managers in the government, doctors and paramedical staff to rethink the existing workings of the gynaecology and children wards at Sindh government hospitals.
“There is a need to develop a fool-proof mechanism under which a newborn, after delivery, is handed over to the mother or blood relatives only by the doctor conducting the delivery, only after proper verification and identification. In this regard directives are being issued to all medical superintendents of hospitals and executive district officers (health),” he said.
Pointing to the stolen and recovered newborn girl, who slept comfortably in her mother’s lap during his talk with the media, Dr Ahmad said that a crisis had been resolved after efforts of 42 hours, but still a lot of things remained to be done on the administrative and disciplinary sides.
The lady health visitor employed at the New Karachi hospital who helped in the abduction of the baby had been taken into custody by police, while another two junior staffers and a woman, who had taken away the baby from the hospital, are also being interrogated by police.
“Other senior staff concerned, guilty of negligence, will also have to face disciplinary actions if the inquiry committee of the health department instituted to report into the theft case recommended so,” the minister added.
He said that no paramedical staff or other non-concerned person would be allowed to conduct deliveries, except the doctor concerned. No child below the age of four would be allowed to enter the gynaecology ward or in the labour room of a hospital.
He further said that a doctor who would perform a delivery should introduce himself or herself to the patient and her attendant first and would also ensure that proper identification band was tied around the arm of the newborn in the presence of the mother for identification, while security should also be placed at all gynaecology wards not to allow shifting of any newborn without a baby pass issued by the doctor concerned.
About the woman abductor of the child, the minister said that things got complicated when she imposed a fake pregnancy on herself. However, some initial tests had revealed that she was never pregnant and the recovered baby had rightly been handed over to the genuine parents, the minister added.
DSP Amir Hameed of the Anti-violent Crime Unit said that there was no gang behind the New Karachi hospital incident and, based on what he had assessed, he could say that the abductor, Mehwish, was also not a professional baby-grabber.