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Times of India
19 July 2011
By Umesh Isalkar
Pune, India

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has the highest number of portable ultrasound kits, according to the consolidated data on portable sonography machines actively in use in Maharashtra. The state is considering a ban on the use of these machines. The state has 2,382 compact portable kits, of which 1,520 are in the BMC limits, says the health department’s consolidated report on portable sonography machines.

The use of portable sonography machine is being looked at sceptically by the authorities, bent on improving the skewed child sex ratio in the state. Priced between Rs 2.5 lakh and Rs 4 lakh, the portable ultrasound kits are available from briefcase size to cellphone size. The price of a regular sonography machine ranges between Rs 6 lakh and Rs 7 lakh.

"The government is seriously considering a ban on the use of portable sonography machines. I have also recommended a ban on the use of such kits in my capacity as an appropriate authority," said Suresh Gupta, additional director of state health services.

"These machines are being used indiscriminately for sex determination of foetuses. A ban will deter medical practitioners from taking these machines to places where there is a demand for sex determination. Since these machines can be moved from one place to another without much effort, it is difficult to keep a tab on them," he added.

According to the report on portable sonography machines, the Mumbai circle has 1,618 portable sonography machines. Of them, 1,520 are within the BMC limits, followed by Kalyan Dombivli Municipal Corporation (39), Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (17), Raigad (13), Meera Bhayander Municipal Corporation (8), Ratnagiri (7), Bhivandi Nijampur Municipal Corporation (6), Thane Municipal Corporation (5), Thane district (3), Ulhasnagar Municipal Corporation (0).

The Nashik circle has 234 portable kits. Of which, the highest number is in Jalgaon (100). The Pune circle has 41 portable kits; highest in Solapur (28). Kolhapur circle has 65 kits and Sangli Miraj Kupwada, which comes within the circle, alone has 59 kits. Aurangabad circle has 93 kits; highest in Aurangadbad Municipal Corporation (52). In Latur circle, 46 out of the total 50 kits are in Nanded Municipal Corporation. Nagpur circle has 177 kits; of them, 117 kits are in Nagpur Municipal Corporation, the report states.

"The compact machines are beneficial for quick diagnosis and treatment anywhere, from accident sites to a patient's bedside. But, it may boost illegal sex determination, leading to sex-selective abortion as keeping a tab on use of portable machines is difficult," said a radiologist, requesting anonymity.

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