On Saturday evening, an infant girl was abandoned by a woman, who appeared to be her mother, at Ward No. 2 of GB Pant Hospital. The baby girl, as per doctors, appears to have a congenital problem, which they feel may have been the reason for her being ‘unwanted’. The girl is the second abandoned child housed in this hospital.
Earlier, a baby boy, found by people on the stairs of Makhdoom Sahib Shrine in Srinagar, was also ‘admitted’ at the hospital for nurture and care. The baby boy has a ‘neurologic issues’ that are being looked into at the hospital. However, the doctors said, the issues are not such that the child needs a hospital stay.
In absence of a proper system in place, abandoned children are admitted at GB Pant Children Hospital. Although there are many orphanages in Kashmir, these lack infrastructure and human resource to take care of infants. Hospital administration of GB Pant Hospital said they cannot keep babies in the hospital for long. “Hospital cannot compensate as home. But we are doing our best to secure the life of these children,” Dr Kaiser Ahmed, Principal and Professor of Paediatrics at GMC Srinagar told Greater Kashmir.
The GMC Principal said that this is not the first instance of children being abandoned at hospital. “There needs to be a something substantial that can secure the future of these children. For children, a little older than this, and without any serious health issues, we have had eager couples and NGOs coming forward. But who would take care of an infant?,” he asked.
“Our NICU mothers are taking care of the babies, changing diapers, giving feeds, even giving the affectionate warm motherly touch, I saw,” Dr Shafqat Khan, MS GB Pant Hospital said. “But we cannot keep them in hospital forever,” he added while he explained how a long hospital stay can increase risk of hospital acquired infections. “These children have become an emotional issue in hospital, but we have to think on long term basis,” he said.
Nighat Shafi, Chairperson of Shehjaar Children’s Home in city said that it is very difficult to find people ready to adopt children with health issues.
Although government has an orphanage in Srinagar, the state-of-affairs is ‘dismal’ as per reports. “That orphanage (government run) is not a place where these infants can be sent. There is no such orphanage that is fully equipped to take care of the needs of children with issues that are or can lead to a disability,” Shafi said.
The fate of homes for children with vision, speech or hearing impairment has not been encouraging, social workers believe. Currently, the cost of feeds and treatment of these children is being provided from Janani Shishu Suraksha Yojana at Paediatric Hospital, a program that covers all infants upto one year. The care is being provided in the NICU of the hospital. But both these things are going to run out. “These abandoned children will be forgotten. There is no system that ensures their welfare,” said a doctor at GB Pant Hospital.