KUALA LUMPUR: Allegations of baby snatching fall within the health ministry’s jurisdiction, said women, family and community development minister Nancy Shukri.
At a special briefing in Parliament today, Nancy clarified that the SOPs require such cases to first be routed through the health ministry before any intervention.
“If they are still in hospital, it’s the health ministry’s responsibility. We cannot simply step in.
“But if the case is referred to us, say if the mother is not there anymore, we will have to bring it to court.
“We will have to ask for a protection order from the court. We cannot simply seize the child. There are procedures. Even the hospitals have their welfare officers,” she said.
This follows a news report alleging cases of baby snatching involving stateless parents at a Sabah hospital.
According to the report, stateless mothers at the hospital were instructed to leave their infants in the neonatal intensive care unit, only to discover later that their babies had been given away to adoptive mothers.
The health department’s inquiry, initiated by Sabah health director Dr Asits Sanna, concluded that the claim was unfounded. It said no such incident had been identified in any of the state’s government hospitals.
Nancy said her ministry’s main concern was the welfare of the child, and urged stateless parents to seek help.
She said their concerns about potential legal repercussions to their citizenship status should not deter them from coming forward.
“The welfare of the child is of utmost importance to us. Whether the child or the parents are stateless, the main thing is that the child is taken care of first,” she said.
On the formation of a new child development department, Nancy said its officers will be trained to ensure they are competent in handling cases involving children.
This will be carried out through the development of modules and implementation of training through professional certification.
She said the projected increase in their staff numbers would result in a reduction of the case-to-person ratio from 1:108 to 1:30.