Children’s kidnapping from hospitals, especially of newborn babies, in various parts of the country has been continuing for years. In most cases, the abductors are women. Babies have been kidnapped or stolen from both private and government hospitals. So far only a few kidnapped babies have been recovered. Karachi, in particular, has been hit hard by the phenomenon of babies’ abduction from hospitals. Recently another newborn baby was kidnapped allegedly from a private hospital in the city. This incident has once again increased the sense of fear and insecurity about newborns’ safety in hospitals. Here the role of the Sindh Healthcare Commission (SHCC) comes into question. Established in March 2014, the SHCC is empowered to ensure security to both medicare providers and the recipient of healthcare; curb negligence in the provision of healthcare; and check anti-social activities at hospitals. The commission’s mandate covers both public and private hospitals. Unfortunately, the persistence of babies’ abductions from hospitals has put a question mark on SHCC’s performance.
By now hospital managements and the government administration should be familiar with the modus operandi of those involved in kidnapping babies from hospitals considering that their tactics are almost identical. But the sorry situation shows slackness on the part of the SHCC and hospital administrations. Hospitals need to focus more on tightening security and vigilance on their premises as this would effectively prevent babies’ kidnapping and also infuse confidence in patients, their families and the public at large. The circumstances surrounding the latest kidnapping indicate that security arrangements were much wanting at the hospital. The newborn was abducted when his father had gone out for sehri. There were chances that criminal elements might take advantage of the sehri time when male attendants of mother and child are away from them. All the CCTV cameras at the hospital were out of order when the incident occurred. This is a serious failure.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 22nd, 2022.