Portable Ultrasound Gadgets Pose Fresh Foeticide Threat
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11 December 2010
By Sukhbir Siwach
With a skewed sex ratio (850 females per 1,000 males) attributed largely to rampant sex determination tests of the foetus by ultrasound machines, Haryana faces a fresh obstacle: cellphone–sized portable ultrasound kits have flooded the market, causing deep concern among health authorities.
Priced between Rs 5.5 lakh and Rs 6 lakh, the kit weighs about 400 gm and can fit in a radiologist’s pocket, sources said. Such compact machines are beneficial for quick diagnosis and treatment anywhere, from accident sites to a patient’s bedside. But in a boy–crazy state like Haryana, it may boost illegal sex determination leading to sex–selective abortions.
The state health department has not yet caught any radiologist using such hand–held ultrasound machines. However, a couple of days ago, health authorities in Kurukshetra sealed an ultrasound centre for violation of Pre–natal Diagnostic Techniques (PNDT) rules. The centre’s owner had sought permission for keeping a portable ultrasound machine, but the health department declined his request, sources said.
State health minister Geeta Bhukkal has asked the director general of health services to submit a report to the government. Arvind Sharma, Karnal MP, who has taken up the issue with the government, has demanded a ban on such medical gadgets. "Such portable ultrasound equipment are being widely used ostensibly to determine the gender of the foetus. If no steps are taken against the misuse, all efforts to stop female foeticide would go waste," Sharma said.