Rejection of new-born infants
Moscow, 23 October 2013
Russian ministry of health has stated that the number of rejections of newly born infants in maternity institutions has not decreased
The ministry has written to authorities below federal level about the above. Knowledgeable advisers have commented on the ministry’s data on behalf of the NGOs and contest the assertion that proposals for improving the situation have not been put to it.
The statistics show that there were 5,687 rejections in 2012 corresponding to 0.299% of the total number of births, the comparable number in 2011 having been 5,378 and 0.299% respectively. The ministry thinks that because there has been no reduction, steps should be taken towards cutting the number of social orphans. These would consist in particular of organising centres where medico-social help would be available for pregnant women in difficulties in all regions (currently they exist in 22 administrative districts) to provide psychological advice, to make information available to the women and to train specialists and medical personnel for preventative work.
ASI asked specialists from the Fund for the Prevention of Social Orphanage (FPSO), which has been working in over 20 regions in Russia, to comment. These say that the statistics on rejections are complicated, pointing out that official data had been compiled only since 2012. Until then there had been only estimates. Accordingly there were discrepancies. The ministry of education reckoned that 6230 women had rejected their newborn in 2012. It would be difficult to speak of a trend based on figures from that year alone. Even when the data for 2013 are received, there will still be insufficient material from which to draw conclusions. Preventative services had opened only in the last three to four years. This year FPSO had commissioned research on the causes of rejection and preventative measures. The authors had analysed the situation in 22 regions where preventative work was in hand. The results showed that the services had dealt with 764 cases and managed to forestall rejection in 390 of them.
The ASI correspondent was told that a working group set up by the ministry of health had been looking at the question, although in the ministry’s letter it was stated that the federal authorities and organisations had not offered proposals (it being unclear, however, which organisations were referred to, whether governmental or communal).
The director of FPSO said that they had collected suggestions from many regions, tabulated them and sent them to the ministry of health. It was incorrect to say there had been no proposals. The necessity of adopting a standard procedure had been advocated, and a system of interdepartmental co-operation proposed. It was not enough to prevent rejection. Follow-up work was needed. It had been suggested that the procedure for communicating information about a woman’s intention to reject her child be simplified, it having been pointed out that there was no opportunity for social workers or psychologists working in medical institutions to advise. The main problem lay in the fact that the preventative work was not mandatory in the regions. There were only advisory circulars.
Despite all that FPSO had done to persuade regional and federal authorities to change the situation, there had been no directive forthcoming stating that the problem needed resolving. This was necessary if the number of rejections were to be reduced. It was essential to develop the work of the medico-social centres for pregnant women and fashion a programme for training specialists. If such arrangements were to operate nationwide at regional level then of course the number would fall.