A five-month-old boy who died at the state-run children’s home in Hulhumalé was not treated for a broken arm, an informed source has alleged.
The infant – who was taken under state care when he was abandoned at birth – was found unconscious by a staff member on the morning of October 17. He was pronounced dead upon arrival at the Hulhumalé hospital.
He was reportedly rushed to hospital with breathing difficulties.
The government source who spoke to the Maldives Independent on the condition of anonymity said that the infant had “a broken arm that was not treated” before he died.
“The scans done in Maldives showed that he had a broken arm. It was apparent from the scans that the injury was days old,” the source said.
While it is not clear if the broken arm was linked to the death, it has raised questions of negligence, the source said, adding that the boy was only named before the funeral.
The police, who have launched an investigation in collaboration with the gender ministry, have decided to conduct an autopsy overseas.
A police spokesperson said that details will be revealed when the full postmortem report is sent from India.
The gender ministry was not available for comment at the time of going to press.
In the wake of the infant’s death, an executive coordinator at the gender ministry told local media that the authorities have not learned of any suspicious incidents related to the death. The police investigation would determine if negligence by staff at the Fiyavathi children’s home was to blame, he said.
On the day of the boy’s death, the ministry issued a statement pledging a thorough investigation and vowing to “take action against anyone who is found guilty of negligence.”
A separate investigation by the Human Rights Commission of Maldives is also underway. A standard operating procedure in cases of medical emergencies at children’s homes was compiled based on recommendations by the HRCM in 2011.
Fiyavathi, the second children’s home managed by the gender ministry in the Greater Malé region, was built with a donation from United Arab Emirates businessman Mahmoodh Al Khaja and opened in February. The first children’s home is located in the capital’s other suburb, Vilimalé.
The shelter in Hulhumalé is home to 86 children, all of whom are under the age of nine. The two-storey building has 12 rooms and separate facilities for girls and boys.
According to the human rights watchdog and children’s rights organisations, state-run shelters are chronically underfunded and understaffed.
Local NGO Advocating for the Rights of Children had called for an independent and transparent investigation into the infant’s death.
“ARC remains deeply concerned that shelters are extremely understaffed, with the added challenge of housing children over their capacity,” the NGO said in a statement. “ARC also calls upon the authorities to establish proper safety measures in all shelters, including trained staff and safety equipment.”