Better statistics needed on abandoned new-borns

NGO representatives recommend that the Russian Ministry of Health broaden the statistics on abandoned new-born children

17.10.14, Moscow

The Committee on Guardianship Issues in the Social Sphere believes it is essential to collect a greater quantity of data about new-born children who have been abandoned by their parents.  Participants at a meeting on 17 October requested that the Russian Ministry of Health incorporate additional questions into the medical documents of new-borns, which would facilitate the analysis of the reasons behind their abandonment and improve protection mechanisms in place.

According to industry data, the number of abandoned new-borns has decreased from 5687 in 2012 to 5038 in 2013. The percentage of rejections has decreased from 0.3% of all new-borns to 0.26%, explained Elena Baibarina, the director of the Department of Medical Aid to Children and Maternity Services at the Ministry of Health.

She noted, “This figure is high, and work needs to be done on preventative measures.”

The highest incidence of abandoned new-borns in Russia is concentrated in the Khabarovsk (1.9%), Altai (0.72%), Irkutsk (0.87%) and Chelyabinsk (1.86%) regions. The figures are traditionally close to zero in the southern republics, such as Ingushetia and Chechnya, with a very low figures also in Mordovia, Buryatia and the Belgorod region.

Alexandra Marova, the Director of the Charity Fund for the Prevention of Social Orphanhood, cited another statistic based on a study carried out by the Ministry of Education and Science: 6230 children were abandoned over 2012, and 5757 over 2013.

“There has been a fall in these and other figures, but it is difficult to evaluate the dynamics of the situation. The statistics are only available for the last two or three years,” she noted.

She suggests that the Novosibirsk region has been good at putting preventative measures in place against the abandonment of new-borns, as systematic work has been done in collaboration with NGOs. Moreover, there is money in the regional budget to finance the programme.

“There’s a bit of a mish-mash. Regions create social hostels, run training sessions for responsible parenting, and all this is under the name of measures to prevent the abandonment of new-borns. Are we to understand that a pregnant woman attending a training session is preparing to abandon her child? These are attended by lower-income groups, those with lots of children or teenage mothers. Nothing of the sort. Socially privileged women also abandon their babies,” said Marova.

Determining the target groups is necessary to trace the effectiveness of the programme of preventative measures and the expenditure of budgetary resources, as far as subsidies and grants under this activity are allocated.

In the words of Elena Alshanskaya, the President of the Charity Fund for Home Help Volunteers for Orphans, data on abandonment is currently scant. Alshanskaya believes that the social characteristics of the mother and medical characteristics must be included in the record of abandonment cases, for example, the reason for abandonment, the citizenship of the mother, or the state of the child’s health.

Furthermore, she is of the opinion that data about, for example, the number of cases where preventative measures against abandonment have been used in antenatal clinics, is essential.

“Our experience shows that those who actually abandon their new-borns do not attend antenatal clinics during pregnancy. I suspect that women with other issues go to surgeries for medical and social aid,” remarked Alshanskaya.

At the moment, in 792 antenatal clinics organised by surgeries for medical and social assistance, about 1000 antenatal clinics have a psychologist present. There are 385 centres for medical and social support for pregnant women in the regions, which assisted 202,000 women in 2013.

Author: Yulia Vyatkina

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