The Paediatrics Department at Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) has conducted a workshop on child abuse and neglect, focusing on the role of medical staff in reporting child abuse cases, medical examination of children and the legal procedures to be followed at the hospital.
“Although we do not have data on child abuse in Qatar, we know that it does exist in our society. The main objective of this workshop is to increase staff awareness about the presence of child abuse. Participants were briefed about the management plans in place to deal with child abuse cases and the subsequent follow-up,” Dr Khalid al-Saadi of the Paediatrics Department said.
Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar paediatrics adjunct professor Dr Marcellina Mian highlighted how to define suspected child abuse and neglect and the medical signs and symptoms which should be carefully observed before reporting a case of child abuse.
“The World Health Organisation (WHO) definition of child abuse includes physical, emotional, psychological abuse, all of which affect a child’s development and dignity,” Dr Mian said.
“The medical staff should observe whether the injuries suffered by children match with the explanation. Bruises, fractures, burn marks and other injuries, which appear abnormal, need further examination. Medical staff should be well versed with the line of questioning to confirm a suspected case of child abuse at home,” Dr Mian added.
To deal with child abuse and neglect cases in a systematic and compassionate manner, HMC has also set up a Support Child Abuse and Neglect (SCAN) Programme, which is aimed at extending due care and support to affected children, while protecting their rights to a safer environment at home.
“Currently we have a plan in place at HMC to deal with suspected child abuse cases,” Al Saad Paediatric Emergency Centre chairman Dr Khaled al-Ansari said, adding: “The role of the social worker is crucial. He or she has to co-ordinate with the on-call social worker at Qatar Foundation for the matter to be further reported to the interior ministry for legal action.”
He added that the important factor was to maintain privacy and confidentiality in child abuse cases and to be eternally vigilant, when a suspect child comes for treatment either at the hospital, paediatric emergency centres or at the Public Health Centres in Qatar.
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