Concern as dozens of babies in Portugal ‘haven’t been registered during pandemic’

Dozens of babies appear to have been born during the pandemic but not ‘registered’ in the usual way.

The problem has been exacerbated by the closing of ‘Nascer Cidadão’ outlets at various points over the last 15 months, meaning parents are reduced to trying to register their infants online.

As many of these infants appear to have been born to foreign nationals who cannot easily navigate the Portuguese system, authorities realise ‘children are falling through the net’.

At best this can mean they are not being duly-vaccinated (with the normal childhood vaccines), or their development ‘accompanied’. At worst it can leave them open to ‘abuse’: worst case scenario being the threat that they could be ‘trafficked’/ put up for adoption (as no one has any idea where, or even who, these children are).

The problem has been flagged by pediatricians at Faro Hospital, reports SIC.

Data from INSA (the public health institute) reported recently on 18,226 children having taken the routine ‘footprick test’.

Says SIC, the number didn’t tally with the hospital’s own list of babies born.

In fact it suggests a lot of babies haven’t had their footprick test, or possibly anything else in the way of routine healthcare.

Said a source from the hospital: “Pediatricians of CHUA (the Algarve’s hospital centre) compared the numbers of births at Faro Hospital and concluded the data didn’t coincide”.

Sara do Vale, president of the Portuguese association for the rights of women in pregnancy and childbirth (APDMGP) said this is very worrying.

She has heard of women who have been through long and difficult labours have to queue up to take a ‘ticket’ in order to register their babies.

She says this is not the way things should work. “We should be going out to find these people. Not the other way around…”

She described the situation as ‘exasperating’.

CHUA therefore is going to try a new ‘scheme’ to rectify this grey area: a form of pilot project in collaboration with the IRN (registrations institute) to try and reach babies born throughout the last year who have effectively ‘disappeared from sight’ “without rights, and without identity”, stresses SIC.

If it works, the plan could be rolled out nationally and reduce the ‘fragility’ the pandemic has brought to yet another area of everyday life.

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com