Bengal hospitals step up vigil following baby sale racket
At least 50 babies sold off and three buried, says CID. Three nursing homes, two NGOs already found involved, 18 arrested so far. Yet this may not be the end of this racket.
There is an alert throughout Bengal. Government and private hospitals have told doctors and nurses to verify birth certificates of babies when they are brought to the sick newborn care units (SNCU) and neo-natal care units (NICU).
The hospital authorities have also been told to keep a watch on the behaviour of mothers during treatment of babies at the SNCUs and NICUs.
The shocking baby-sale racket in the state has prompted hospital authorities to take this precautionary measure.
“We are always careful. The racket busted by the police has also pressed an alarm button among us. We thoroughly verify the births certificates of babies who are brought to our hospital for treatment. Now, we have also decided keep watch on the behaviour of their mothers. Sometimes, we doubt the identity of the real mother following her abnormal behaviour. For instance, a few mothers are surprisingly reluctant to breast feed ailing babies,” said Dr Dilip Pal, superintendent of the B C Roy Memorial Hospital for Children.
B C Roy Memorial Hospital is the biggest referral hospital in Bengal for children.
“We handover babies to the child welfare department when we find abnormalities in birth certificates and suspicious behaviour of their moms.An original mother can never refuse to feed her ailing baby. During the past several years, we have handed over at least 10 babies to the child welfare department. Now, we will streamline the screening system again,” Pal said.
A senior official of the health department told HT, “Now the time has come to strengthen vigilance in the SNCUs and NICUs where ailing infants are brought from villages. There are around 40 SNCUs in government hospitals and medical colleges across the state.”
Sleuths of the criminal investigation department (CID) have already spread its investigations to several other private hospitals and nursing homes in districts to unearth the child trafficking network.
On the other hand, spilling of the racket has also prompted the state health department to bring hundreds of nursing homes mushrooming in the city and district under CID scanner.
The health department, led by chief minister Mamata Banerjee, may also scan records relating to delivery cases and credentials of concerned doctors who perform caesarean or normal deliveries in these nursing homes.
“Police are investigating the case in which several nursing homes are involved. We will also explore whether the health department has any scope for separate legal action against these errant nursing homes as per the Clinical Establishment Act. We will cooperate with the sleuths investigating the case,” said an official of the state directorate of health services.
“The racket is really shocking to all of us. We also have a plan to bring all other nursing homes and even private hospitals under the scanner of our medical establishment wing. The chief medical officers of health (CMOH) in districts will be alerted in this regard,” he added.