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China 'Baby Hatch' Overwhelmed by Abandoned Children

  • VOA News

FILE - People walk past next to a baby hatch named "baby safety island" at the Tianjin Institute of Children's Welfare.

FILE - People walk past next to a baby hatch named "baby safety island" at the Tianjin Institute of Children's Welfare.

Authorities in southern China said a station where parents are able to anonymously leave their unwanted children has been forced to close because of an overwhelming number of abandoned babies.

The Xinhua news agency reported that the so-called "baby hatch" in southern China's Guangzhou City has received 262 babies since it began operation in late January. That figures to roughly five babies per day.

The report on Monday quotes local welfare officials as saying the facility's "rooms, beds, quarantine facilities as well as working staff are facing a shortfall due to the overwhelming baby figures."

The officials said the closure is temporary, stressing that it will be reopened once all the abandoned babies, many of whom are sick, receive proper treatment.

Guangzhou City China

Guangzhou City China

Since 2011, China has set up 25 baby hatches across the country in an effort to cut the mortality rate of abandoned infants. There are plans to add many more.

Those wishing to abandon a baby can walk into the facility, leave the child in a temperature-controlled hatch, and sound an alarm. Medical staff will then retrieve the child five to 10 minutes later.

Critics of the baby hatches say they could encourage parents to abandon their children. Supporters say the facilities provide immediate, life-saving care to children who likely would be abandoned anyway.

Abandoning a child is against the law in China, but the issue remains a major problem, partly due to a decades-old one-child policy that has created a higher demand for boys than for girls. Beijing says a roughly equal number of boys and girls have been left in the baby hatches.

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