Blaming the latest technology and unscrupulous doctors for the declining sex ratio, Union Health and Family Welfare Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad on Monday said the situation was “very alarming,” more so in the Kashmir Valley which had seen the sharpest decline in the female population.

“Unfortunately, the story of Kashmir has been the worst. It has shown almost 100 point decline in the past 40 years,” he told reporters during an interaction with members of the Indian Women Press Corps.

The sex ratio in Jammu and Kashmir — Mr. Azad's home State — has come down from 959 per 1,000 males in 1971 to 892/1000 in 2001 and now 883 women per 1,000 males. Similarly, the child sex ratio has fallen from 941 in 2001 to 859 in 2011 Census.

“The decline has been mostly in the Valley, while the non-Muslim dominated areas around Jammu are better off,” he said, while calling for a change in the mindset to fight the menace. As against three to four States showing a skewed sex ratio earlier, the problem has now spread to 22 States, he said.

Mr. Azad said the government expected an improvement with increased levels of education but, unfortunately, cheap and portable technology of sex detection had worsened the scenario. Linking sex determination and selective abortions to the reluctance of doctors to serve in the rural areas, the Minister said the doctors earned enough by indulging in these illegal practices at the district level and hence did not want to go to remote areas.

Blaming the Indian Medical Council for influencing the Medical Council of India (MCI) against granting recognition to the proposed Bachelor of Rural Health Care course that sought to create a qualified cadre of health workers to be posted at sub-centres, Mr. Azad said this was being done intentionally so that people did not get treatment and had to come to doctors at the district level.

The provision at present is to have two MBBS doctors at each primary health centre, but the government had not been able to do this as the doctors refused to serve in the rural areas. There are 25,000 PHCs and 1.5 lakh sub-centres.

The Minister said he would approach the MCI again, and ask the Board of Governors to recognise the degree. Initially, mooted by the MCI, the Board of Governors had, however, refused to recognise it. “The course is being taught in several States, but we want to make it attractive by giving it a national character,” he said.

The Ministry will also launch an ambitious plan to test people for diabetes. In the first phase, which will be launched in 100 districts before the end of the current Five Year Plan, 15-20 crore people will be covered. For this purpose, pharmaceutical companies have agreed to provide the testing strips for Rs. 5 instead Rs. 35.

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