‘Action Plan Needed to Curb Sex Determination Tests’
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09 December 2010
By Umesh Isalkar
Demanding maximum punishment for doctors doing foetal sex determination tests, the Federation of Obstetrics and Gynaecological Society of India (FOGSI) recently called for a well–defined action plan from the government to punish erring doctors and patients, even as the state on Tuesday responded positively to the appeal.
FOGSI, which is a national body of gynaecologists, had in 2009–10 formed 202 Dosst (Doctors Opposing Sex Selective Termination) cells across the country to check sex selective abortions.
FOGSI president senior gynaecologist Sanjay Gupte told TOI, "The Union and state governments need to formulate a common action plan to tackle the menace of sex determination tests and sex selective abortions.
FOGSI members are ready to coordinate with the government to address the issue." In response, state health minister Suresh Shetty expressed willingness to coordinate with FOGSI members at the state–level to formulate a coordinated action plan. "A common action plan will definitely bring down cases of sex selective abortions," he told TOI.
Meanwhile, Gupte said, "Although the Preconception and Prenatal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) Act is in place, which deters doctors and patients from sex determination tests, there is no action plan to bring about coordination and cooperation among doctors and the government.
Doctors should voluntarily disclose information about medical practitioners who resort to sex determination tests and the heinous practice of sex selective abortions." An action plan envisages employing decoys to expose erring doctors, continuous monitoring and systematic reporting of sonography tests, preparing a strong case that will stand in the court of law to get maximum punishment for such a doctor, etc., he added.
"At present, most of the criminal cases filed against doctors are for trivial omissions in filling up the F form, which is essential for reporting purposes. There are very few cases where doctors are actually punished for carrying out sex determination tests. The action plan that we are demanding should focus on such errant doctors and ensure that a strong case be built against them for maximum punishment," said Gupte.
Coming to the point which has led to the FOGSI demanding strict action is the declining child sex ratio (0 to 6 years) in the state which fell to 850 girls for 1,000 boys in 2009 as compared to 913 girls against 1,000 boys in 2001, a drastic deterioration in the last few years, as per the Integrated Child Development Services data.
"It is the duty of every doctor and citizen to educate the public regarding the menace of the drastically dropping sex ratio," said Gupte.
With the latest report on sex ratio at birth in 2010, the Maharashtra’s Health Management Information System (HMIS) also corroborates the grim scenario. According to the HMIS’ circlewise child sex ratio at birth 2010 data, the state has an average of 904 girl child per 1,000 boys. "As per global trends, the child sex ratio should be more than 960 girls per 1,000 boys," said Prakash Doke, executive director, SHSRC.