Silent Observer Scheme Justified
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30 June 2011
By, Swati Deshpande
The ‘silent observer" scheme in Kolhapur on ultrasound images of pregnant women created a lotof soundbytes in its defence in court from the collector’s counsel Ashutosh Kumbhakoni on Wednesday. The child birth data shows an improvement in the sex ratio, he said, with the April-May 2011 figures showing a healthy 195 boys to 199 girls being born in Kolhapur, an almost first time rise in number of girls sincetheimplementation ofthe schemelastOctober.
The Bombay high court bench of Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice R P Sondurbaldota which was hearing a petition filed by radiologists from across the state challenging thescheme requiring installation of a deviceto permitdata collection and review by third parties as being against patients’ privacy rights.
The court concluded the hearing on Wednesday and reserved its judgment for the scheme’sfuturelife. Kumbhakoni, in detailed submissionson why thescheme ought not to be scrapped and insteadbe ‘encouraged",saidthat ‘firstly,thisis a pilot project and is being being implemented with the consent and tacit approval of all doctors".
He said it was not thrust mandatorily by the collector upon them as was sought to be made out. ‘A one dayseminar washeldby thecollector and civil surgeon where operators of these sonography centreswereshown a demo and explained its importance. All agreed to install the silent observer," he added.
The scheme comes in two parts. Doctors have to fill out form F for scans of pregnant women online as against manually done earlier. The onlinesubmissionshaseffectively dealt with existing underr reporting as well as false and incomplete reporting. ‘Thesecentres would sometimes not completekey detailsin theform and later plead lack of time, but the online system does not accept incomplete forms hence the data is now more accurate.
Some of the key colums which doctors ‘forgot to fill usually were “how many children do you have and the sex of the child/ren? and the refereal details. If it was a self referal it causedsuspicion or if thewoman already had two daughters her details would be tracked saidKumbhakoni.