14 March 2012
By Kanchan Srivastava
Fertility centres are the last resort for infertile couples desperate to start a family. However, following reports that a few In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) centres conduct pre–conceptional sex determination tests, the state health department has decided to take action.
Besides keeping tabs on the 8,400+ ultrasound centres in the state, the public health department will also keep an eye on these errant fertility centres.
In a letter sent to all civil surgeons and municipal commissioners in December 2011, the department has asked them to furnish the number of fertility clinics under their jurisdiction.
The Pre–conception and Pre–natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) Act covers four types of health centres – genetic counselling centres, genetic laboratories, genetic clinics, and USG and imaging centres. However, IVF centres are currently not under the Act’s radar.
“Till date, only 13 administrations have replied to us. We are following up with the others,” said a top official from the health department who, three months on, is still having a hard time to finalising the list. Interestingly, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is one among the civic bodies that have yet to respond.
The Indian Medical Association has also been roped in to identify fertility experts with dubious records.
Activists have been raising their concerns over these centres for many years. A few are allegedly separating X and Y chromosomes and providing male embryos on demand to make a fast buck. A few fertility experts have already been booked for posting advertisements promising male offspring.
Dr Nandita Palshetkar, who has multiple IVF clinics in Mumbai and Navi Mumbai, said, “At a USG centre, a doctor alone performs the test and can divulge details about the sex of the embryo if he wants. But IVF clinics don’t have a sex determination test facility.”
However, sources said that some IVF centres and genetic labs do have Pre–implantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD) facilities, which allows testing of the embryo before implantation, and re offering male babies for Rs5–Rs6 lakh..