Emergency births by maternity tourists soar in Hong Kong

2011-12-07 07:22

Hong Kong – The number of mainland Chinese women giving birth in accident and emergency departments in Hong Kong hospitals has almost doubled after the introduction of restrictions to curb maternity tourism, according to official figures published today.

Babies born in Hong Kong are entitled to residency along with free education and healthcare in the city which, despite a narrowing gap, remains considerably wealthier than neighbouring southern China.

A total of 205 last-minute deliveries for non-local women were recorded in November, a 99% increase from the same month in 2010, the government’s Hospital Authority said. The cases followed a record monthly high in October when 224 cases were recorded.

In the first 11 months of this year, 1 453 such deliveries occurred, a sharp increase on the 708 recorded in the same period last year.

The number of births by mainland women turning up at emergency departments already in labour has risen steadily from a monthly average of around 80 since May when the government imposed a temporary suspension on non-local mothers booking deliveries in the city.

Pregnant women from China have flooded over the border to give birth in Hong Kong since cross-border travel restrictions were substantially eased in 2003.

Last year, there were 40 000 births to mainland women, accounting for around 45 per cent of all Hong Kong’s births. The surge has left hospitals struggling to cope.

To deter these so-called “maternity tourists,” the government has imposed fees of around 5,000 US dollars per birth, a limit on cases and a compulsory booking system.

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