Baby Harvesting & Human Trafficking in Health Facilities Could derail gains made in Maternal and Child Health – DBI MP

Member of Parliament for Daffiama/Bussie/Issa (DBI) Constituency in the Upper East Region, Dr. Sebastian Ngmenenso Sandaare has called on authorities to ensure every necessary actions is taken to completely stop the practice baby harvesting and human trafficking in health facilities.

According to him the only way to restore public trust especially pregnant women in our health facilities is to put in place a robust system of checks and balancing to eradicate the canker.

Dr Sandaare made the call on the floor of Ghana’s Parliament House yesterday when he read a statement with the caption: “BABY HARVESTING IN HEALTH FACILITIES AND ITS IMPLICATIONS ON MATERNAL AND CHILD HEALTH IN GHANA.”

The DBI lawmaker disclosed that the phenomenon of Baby Harvesting and human trafficking in health facilities across the country has the potential of derailing the gains made in Maternal and Child Health in this country.

Below is the unedited statement

BABY HARVESTING IN HEALTH FACILITIES AND ITS IMPLICATIONS ON MATERNAL AND CHILD HEALTH IN GHANA.

A STATEMENT BY DR. SEBASTIAN NGMENENSO SANDAARE, HON MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT FOR DAFFIAMA/BUSSIE/ISSA CONSTITUENCY.

Thank you Rt. Hon. Speaker for giving me the opportunity to make this statement.
On Thursday, January 21, 2021, Daily Graphic captured a news item on its front page as follows: ‘Baby harvesting syndicate busted. They include two doctors and four nurses’.
It was reported that a joint operation by the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) and the Ghana Medical and Dental Council (MDC) has led to the arrest of eleven (11) persons suspected to be involved in the harvesting of babies and human trafficking in some health facilities in the Greater Accra Region. The suspects comprise of two medical doctors, four nurses, two mothers, two social welfare officers and a traditional birth attendant. The operation reportedly led to the rescue of two baby boys who were offered for sale at Gh₵ 30,000.00 and Gh₵ 20,000.00 each to undercover investigators.
Mr. Speaker, the actions of these professionals have brought shame and fear about maternal healthcare in Ghana. Their actions are not only criminal and unethical but also foreign to the African culture, norms and values. In Africa and particularly, Ghana, children are treasured to the extent that every family wants children.
The stories of babies getting missing after delivery in health facilities have been happening for a long time without satisfactory explanations. An example is the story of the newly born baby who got missing at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital in 2014 which brought sadness to the family and the entire country.
The picture currently unfolding is an indication that we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg and therefore needs urgent attention and redress.
Rt. Hon. Speaker, more worrying is the calibre of health professionals and the alleged institutions they work in. One of the doctors work at the Greater Accra Regional Hospital and the other at the 37 Military Hospital. Both hospitals are reputable institutions of high standards in our country.
Doctors, midwives and social welfare workers are professionals who are trained to heal and protect lives especially the vulnerable in the society. It is therefore sad to find some of them engaged in this inhuman and barbaric act.
Implications on Maternal/Child Health.
Rt. Hon. Speaker, Ghana has gone through a long milestone to achieve some gains in Maternal and Child health. Though Maternal health care has improved over the past 20-30 years the pace has been slow for Ghana to reach its desired target. Interventions such as the Safe Motherhood Program, High Impact Rapid Delivery Program, Free Maternal Health Care under the National Health Insurance Scheme have been implemented over the period to see improvements in Maternal and Child health in the country.
One major determinant affecting progress of maternal and child health is socio-cultural practices of the people in this country. It is one of the contributory factors to why Ghana could not achieve the MDGs in 2015.
The sale of babies in our health facilities is an example of such a negative practice that will derail the gains made in Maternal and Child health in this country. This is because families especially pregnant mothers will lose trust in the health delivery system and will go back to the old practice of delivering at home. The resultant effect will be increase in maternal and child mortality and morbidity. Postnatal Care, Family Planning and Child Immunizations will go down and Ghana will be far from achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Rt. Hon. Speaker, having condemned the bad behaviour of these eleven (11) professionals involved in the sale of babies who are the minority of the totality of all health workers in this country, let me use this opportunity to commend the hardworking health workers especially Medical Doctors and Midwives who have sacrificed their lives to attending to pregnant women and babies. The majority of medical doctors and midwives are of high professional standards and it will not be fair to use what six of their colleagues have done to condemn all of them.
This however should be a wakeup call to ensure high professional standards and ethics among Medical Doctors and Midwives in Ghana.
I also commend the Ghana Medical and Dental Council and EOCO for the good work to uncover this malpractice. The collaboration between the two bodies should be strengthened to enable them make our health facilities safe for mothers and children.
I commend the media highly as well for their role in bringing to light news on such important topics.
Recommendations:
Rt. Hon Speaker whilst we recognise and commend the Medical and Dental Council for living up to its mandate and uplifting the trust and confidence in the healthcare system. I recommend that:
The Draft Amendment to part II of the Health Professions Regulatory Bodies Act (2013) aimed at providing supervision and monitoring of the practice of the various categories of practitioners regulated by the Council (which was worked on by the Select Committee on Health of the 7th Parliament) should as a matter of urgency be laid before this honourable House. The passage of the amendments will further strengthen the regulatory framework and better protect the health, safety and well-being of our people.

The Hon. Minister for Health should constitute a Technical Committee to review and ensure the effective implementation of the protocol on the handling of dead bodies especially bodies in all health facilities both public and private. This will increase public confidence and trust in our healthcare system

Government should adequately resource the Medical and Dental Council and EOCO to enable them perform their regulatory, investigative and supervisory functions effectively and efficiently.

The culprits if proven guilty should be dealt with severely according to the law.

In conclusion, the phenomenon of Baby Harvesting and human trafficking in our health facilities has the potential of derailing the gains made in Maternal and Child Health in this country. All necessary actions must be taken to completely stop the practice and restore public trust in our health facilities.

Once again, I thank you Rt. Hon. Speaker for the opportunity to make this statement.

Story: Franklin ASARE-DONKOH

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