05 June 2013
MOVE EXPECTED TO BRING UNIFORMITY IN MONTH-LONG DRIVE THAT BEGINS FROM SATURDAY
The state family welfare department has issued a slew of instructions and a checklist for inspecting officials to bring uniformity in inspections of sonography clinics and abortion centres.
It has also directed municipal corporations and district administrations to submit an action plan about conducting the month-long inspection drive in the state beginning on Saturday.
The idea is to sound cohesive and rein in unnecessary harassment of doctors over minor mistakes.
“We have asked municipal corporations and district administrations to submit a micro plan (action plan) to ensure that the drive is carried out in the most disciplined manner. We have also issued instructions for inspecting officials so that there is uniformity in the crash inspection drive which will start from June 1. This will automatically preclude undue harassment of doctors running sonography clinics and MTP centres,” said a state health official.
When contacted, S T Pardeshi, medical officer of health (MoH), Pune Municipal Corporation, said, “There are over 392 sonography centres in the city’s municipal limits. Four ward medical officers overseeing work in four administrative zones of Pune city will carry out the monthlong inspection drive. Every day, they need to inspect 12 to 13 sonography centres so each can conduct surprise raids on four sonography clinics. A similar approach will be implemented in the inspection of MTP centres. There are 267 MTP centres in Pune city.”
“We will ensure that our team of inspecting officials is trained in relevant information about the PCPNDT Act and the MTP Act. We won’t allow undue harassment of doctors during the drive,” Pardeshi added.
Pune city has fewer registered sonography centres now than in 2002. According to official records, there were 636 sonography centres then, now there are 392 centres.
Stringent enforcement of the PCPNDT Act, reluctance among doctors’ to operate sonography centres as they were pulled up for minor mistakes, are prominent reasons cited for the closure, experts said.
“As many as 250 sonography centres have closed down in the last 10 years. Among them, 136 centres, the highest, shut down for various reasons in 2011-12,” Pardeshi said. Among the 636 registered centres, 410 centres were active and carried out tests daily, he added.
Among the centres that closed, 62 were shut at the owners’ request, 47 centres were transferred or shifted to some other areas outside the PMC limits, six shut down for lack of radiologists, nine centres were sealed for irregularities and court cases filed against them, registration of 10 centres was suspended/cancelled for not following legal provisions of the act and five centres were shut as they changed plans and did not purchase sonography machines.
Besides, 78 centres were closed for reasons like not obtaining renewal licences in time and the remaining for miscellaneous reasons.
A drive conducted by civic health officials in 2011-12 had found that 40% of MTP centres in Pune do not keep a record of pregnancies terminated in their centres and 20% or more do not send a monthly report of terminated pregnancies. The officials had inspected 185 of the 267 MTP centres in Pune during their special inspection drive during this period.
During the drive, officials verified the centre’s recognition, its record-keeping activity, name and qualifications of doctors performing MTP and other details. Among the 267 recognised MTP centres in Pune, 76 are allowed to carry out termination of pregnancies between 12 to 20 weeks and the rest are allowed to terminate below 12 weeks of pregnancy.
As per the MTP Act, 1971, abortion is legal and provides for termination within 12 weeks of pregnancy. There are certain terms and conditions under the MTP Act where abortion can be done if there is a risk to the life of a pregnant woman and a risk to the child, who may suffer serious abnormalities.
“Pregnancy as a result of rape can also be terminated. Contraception failure is also a ground to terminate a pregnancy. However, beyond 12 weeks, abortion can be done only on the written advice of at least two registered medical practitioners. Also, this can be done only up to the end of the 20th week,” said a civic health official.
There is a district MTP monitoring committed headed by a civil surgeon. Any action pertaining to derecognizing the MTP centre is taken by this committee.
Indtructions for the drive
- District collector, district police superintendent and district civil surgeon should pay personal attention to the crash inspection drive
- A team of inspecting officials should include officials from revenue, police and health department
- The information about inspection date and centres to be inspected must be kept confidential. Inspecting officials must ensure it is a surprise inspection
- Officials should ensure that all inspections are carried out as per the action plan
- District administration and municipal corporation should impart training to inspecting officials about the order of things to be checked/inspected in sonography and abortion centres, conducting a panchnama, dossier scrutiny and writing an inspection report * Officials must ensure that doctors are not unnecessarily harassed. Inspecting officials should have detailed knowledge about their duties and powers
- If an inspecting team finds out a violation of the norms of PCPNDT Act, then a notice can be served to the doctor running sonography clinic or abortion centre as to why the centre/clinics' registration be suspended under section 20 (1) of PCPNDT Act
- Officials need to keep a list of centre/clinics sealed during the drive