Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Baby Dilemma

We all know "One country, two systems" isn't perfect, and there's evidence of this in the maternity wards in Hong Kong.

Lots of mainland Chinese women come here to give birth to not only have a child that has Hong Kong residency, but also allows them to have more than one child, as he or she won't have a hukou, or household registration.

And so many women cross the border to have babies that Hong Kong's public hospitals are now short of staff because maternity specialists can get paid more in private hospitals where many mainland women are willing to shell out for expensive services.

Professor Leung Tak-yeung from the Chinese University of Hong Kong's department of obstetrics and gynecology said the public hospitals' newborn intensive care units were 20 percent over capacity, citing the example of twins born last week and there was no room in the maternity ward so they had to be put in the pediatrics unit.

In addition, the turnover of obstetricians in public hospitals in the past year was 11.2 percent, one of the highest among specialists, according to Hospital Authority figures.

This is at a time where the number of births in Hong Kong has risen in the past 10 years, with births by mainland mothers at 46 percent of the 88,000 newborns last year. Their numbers increased by 9 percent from 2009-2010, while the number of births by Hong Kong mothers only rose by 3.5 percent.

There are now calls for the government to restrict the number of mainlanders coming to the city to give birth, otherwise this will compromise health services for Hong Kong mothers and their newborns.

"The number of mainland mothers giving birth in Hong Kong should be controlled," said Dr Cheung Tak-hong, chief of service in obstetrics and gynecology at Prince of Wales Hospital. "We are not against them giving birth here, but we need to ensure the quality of service provision and the safety of [local] mothers and children."

Hong Kong hospitals should really be putting their priority towards Hong Kong women giving birth, but things go into a gray area when it comes to mainlanders coming here to have babies.

It'll be interesting to see how the government handles this pressing issue, which is two-pronged -- more mainland women coming and paying to have expensive deliveries, thus leading to more medical staff leaving the public sector and going to private hospitals.

Given the Tsang administration's track record in the last few months it isn't too promising that something definitive will be done. Can they limit the number of pregnant mainlanders coming in? How would they regulate that? But it is alarming to see so many well-heeled mainlanders coming here to have babies just by opening their wallets.

It just reinforces their notion that money can by everything -- including residency.

1 comment:

  1. times have changed, in the old days used to hong kong pregnant mothers came to canada to give birth in order to gain citizenship. now likely for better health care mainlanders flock to hong kong to give birth. what goes around comes around.