Chinese health authorities have promised an overhaul in hospitals across the country following the arrest of an obstetrician for allegedly selling newborns to human traffickers, state media reports.
Police in Fuping County in China's northwestern Shaanxi Province said that the doctor, named by the South China Morning Post as Zhang Shuxia, had allegedly sold "several" babies to human traffickers. Police were investigating five other similar cases which had also occurred in Fuping County Maternal and Child Health Care Hospital, reported the state-run Xinhua news agency.
One of the babies was returned to its parents amid emotional scenes on Monday, after its identity was confirmed through DNA testing. As family members wept, the parents knelt to thank police for recovering their son, the state-run China Daily reported.
Fuping County authorities said the baby boy had been allegedly sold for 21,600 yuan ($3,527) by Zhang on July 17, the day after he was born. Police said Zhang had allegedly told the child's parents, Dong Shanshan and Lai Guofeng, that their son had serious congenital illnesses, and convinced them to surrender the boy into his care, reported Xinhua.
The mother, Dong, subsequently reported what had happened to police, and the infant was eventually found in a good condition in a town in neighboring Henan Province Sunday. Zhang and five other suspects have been detained on suspicion of human trafficking, while the hospital's head and two deputies have been sacked, reported Xinhua.
China's state health commission has called for severe punishment for those involved.
"(The commission's leadership) see it as morally degraded, illegal and intolerable," said Mao Qunan, spokesman for the National Health and Family Planning Commission.
The commission vowed to impose stricter management of medical services and implement stronger ethics training across the country to prevent similar cases.