NGO slates neglect of young orphans in Russian hospitals
The charity “Volunteers for Help to Child Orphans” is collecting evidence of orphans being left on their own in hospital.
Children left without parental care are being deprived of attention in the majority of Russian medical institutions. According to eyewitnesses, medical staff do not attend to these children or even provide them with basic needs such as food and water during the day.
Elena Alyshanskaya, a member of the Public Chamber’s Commission for Support to Family, Motherhood and Childhood, has called on anyone who has seen examples of children from orphanages and children’s homes being deprived of basic support in hospital to let the charity know. Writing on her Facebook page Alyshanskaya said “Today a young child can lie in hospital all alone. No-one pays any attention to them, let alone gives them any food for almost an entire day. We are aware of such cases, even in Moscow”.
The charity has therefore decided to compile a list of medical institutions where orphans are left without care for long periods of time. People are being asked to make a note of the city, the name of the hospital and department, explain exactly what they see, to attach a photo and then send the information by e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Confidentiality will be respected.
“If you are an NGO which is continuing to raise money for child orphan nannies, nappies and hospital meals please write and tell us. Please don’t worry that you may be harming the children. Only keeping quiet can do this because the situation is changing far too slowly and affecting thousands of children across the country. Literally thousands! This has to stop!” said Alyshanskaya who is also the charity’s President.
In her view, all people who have concerns (whether they are individuals or NGOs) should ensure that no orphan under the age of five is left on their own in a hospital ward without an adult carer always being present. In addition, a child should not be admitted to hospital after it has been removed from its family or when the parents refuse to take their child to hospital despite doctors’ advice or “just in case”1.
Elena shared memories of what she witnessed in a hospital outside Moscow in 2004. “I was in hospital with my young daughter. Our ward was next to those where babies were lying on their own, often only on a bare oilcloth without any nappies or toys. The sight and sounds of them rocking from side to side and whimpering in their beds was the worst thing I’ve ever seen in my life”, she wrote.
“There should be no isolation on principle. This means that a child should spend every minute in a ward with an adult carer. On principle, there should be no hospitalisation of infants without their parents or a medical member of staff always being with them, particularly if the child is being treated for a life threatening condition”, Elena added.
The Ministry of Health Order No. 170 on the examination of child orphans came into force in 2015. It says that a child who has been taken away from its family or rejected by its parents must be sent immediately to a children’s home, orphanage or shelter which have nannies,
playrooms, carers, baby food and clothes. However, this is far from being universal practice, according to Alyshanskaya.
1Just in case something is wrong and the doctors need to examine the child and admit it to hospital without the parents’ permission.