MPs fear baby-selling syndicate could derail maternal mortality fight

Parliament of Ghana

Members of Parliament have expressed displeasure about reports of baby-harvesting in some health facilities of the country – whereby babies are stolen from their mothers after delivery and sold to people – saying this development will discourage the fight against maternal mortality and poor child health.

Commenting on the matter, Member of Parliament for Daffiama/Bussie/Issa Constituency, Dr. Sebastian Ngmenenso Sandaare, said the baby-harvesting activities are eroding confidence in the health system and may further mar the fight against maternal mortality, as some expectant mothers will shun hospitals and resort to traditional treatments for fear of having their babies stolen.

“The sale of babies in our health facilities is an example of a negative practice that will derail the gains made in maternal and child health in the country. This is because families, especially pregnant mothers, will lose trust in the health delivery system and go back to the old practice of delivering at home.

“The resultant effect will be an increase in maternal and child mortality and morbidity. Post-natal care, family planning and child immunisations will go down, and Ghana will be far from achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),” he said.

The MP further called on government to promptly address the problem in order to restore public trust in health facilities, as well as ensure high professional standards and ethics among health personnel including medical doctors and midwives in the country.

Dr. Sandaare again urged the Minister of Health to, as a matter of urgency, take steps to amend part II of the Health Professions Regulatory Bodies Act (2013) that aims at providing supervision and monitoring in practitioners’ practice of various categories. “Passage of the amendments will further strengthen the regulatory framework and better protect the health, safety and well-being of our people,” he added.

The Member of Parliament for Sehwi Wiawso, Dr. Kwaku Afriyie, described the incident as disturbing – especially with medical staff involvement in the crime.

“I am also very disheartened that doctors and nurses, in particular, have been cited in this syndicate. I still cannot bring myself to believe that a certified colleague of mine can sink that low to engage in such practices. These are really ethical and moral issues which are playing out in the medical field. They are criminal in nature and expose the pathology that exists in in our wider society,” he noted.

Last month, a joint operation by the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) and the Ghana Medical and Dental Council (MDC) led to the arrest of 11 people suspected of involvement in harvesting babies and human trafficking in some health facilities of the Greater Accra Region. The culprits, according to media reports, comprised two medical doctors, four nurses, two mothers, two social welfare officers and a traditional birth attendant.

Another example of a baby-harvesting incident happened at the Okomfo Anokye Teaching Hospital at Kumasi in 2014, involving a missing baby belonging to one Madam Suweba.

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