Foreign Policy and Security Analyst, Adib Saani has attributed the repeated cases of baby harvesting and human trafficking in some hospitals in the country to what he described as failure on the part of authorities to investigate such cases thoroughly and prosecute perpetrators.
Describing the menace as a health insecurity issue, he indicated the inconclusive nature of investigations into such cases in the past, encouraged the activities of baby-harvesting syndicates as no perpetrator or accomplice has been jailed in connection with such crimes.
In an interview, Mr Saani cautioned that a rise in such crimes may erode public confidence in the health institutions and may compel expectant mothers to resort to unregulated facilities or inappropriate delivery methods instead of going to the hospital.
Mr Saani was reacting to the arrest of seven persons in connection with the harvesting of babies and human trafficking in some health facilities in the Greater Accra Region last week.
“This is a health insecurity issue fuelled by impunity because it is not the first time we are experiencing this. For many years, a number of such issues have come up and in the end, investigations are carried out by the hospitals and law enforcement agencies and nothing really comes out of it.”
“After investigations, no single human being is prosecuted. We really need to nip in the bud this culture of impunity, if not these crimes would continue to occur and could lead to a high level of public mistrust in our health institutions,” he said.
A joint operation by the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) and the Ghana Medical and Dental Council has so far led to the arrest of eighteen persons (including health practitioners and social welfare workers) belonging to a suspected baby-harvesting syndicate in the country.
The operation has also led to the rescue of three babies. All the suspects are currently on EOCO enquiry bail while investigations continue.
Mr Saani further cautioned that successes chalked up by Ghana in the reduction of infant mortality rate in recent years could take a nosedive if expectant mothers continued to lose trust in the health facilities.
He, therefore, urged the Ghana Health Service to establish or review existing protocols to guide how babies should be handled after delivery to ensure total transparency in the entire delivery process and avoid mistrust.
“Immediately people start feeling that babies are stolen and the healthcare facilities are not safe, they will not be motivated to go to the hospital and that could have a negative influence on our infant mortality rate,” he cautioned.
He added that “The mothers should also be educated on their rights and responsibilities to enable them become well informed and vigilant so that their babies are not stolen or swapped mistakenly.”