The cost of scanning will be covered under the Janani Suraksha Scheme

The Dakshina Kannada district executive committee for endosulfan, headed by Deputy Commissioner A.B. Ibrahim, on Saturday decided to provide ultrasound scanning facility for pregnant women in areas where endosulfan was sprayed aerially. Under the Janani Suraksha Scheme, the State government will bear the cost of the scanning done at select scanning centres in the district.

This facility, which has been a primary demand of endosulfan victims, helps pregnant women prevent possible birth of children with deformities. The victims have been agitating for the facility after the district administration banned a non-governmental organisation in July 2013 from providing this facility for free to the victims, saying it could determine the sex of the foetus, which is illegal.

‘Will not help’

The decision was arrived at during a discussion on the proposal to provide scanning facility once a month. Activist Nityananda Pai said the proposed facility will not help pregnant women. They would need scanning between 11 and 13 weeks to detect Down Syndrome, and between 18 and 20 weeks to know any physical abnormality of the foetus. “With a monthly schedule they are more likely to miss the dates,” he said.

Dr. Pai suggested the committee provide scanning facility through the Janani Suraksha Scheme, under which the government was already bearing with expense of scanning at select private centres. Dr. Pai sought an increase in the number of centres where this facility could be availed.

The Deputy Commissioner agreed with Dr. Pai’s suggestion. Zilla Panchayat Chief Executive Officer Thulasi Maddineni said women can be given Rs. 1,200 for scanning and then submit a report to the department.

Medical Officer S.B. Arun Kumar said no abnormality has been found in the 1,056 scannings done so far under the scheme.

Cashless facility

Dr. Kumar said process was on to issue smart cards to 2,479 persons who have been identified as endosulfan victims.

In the first phase, smart cards will be issued to 1,056 victims who are bedridden or have serious ailments resulting from endosulfan.

These cards will enable cashless treatment facility at 14 private hospitals in Mangalore, Puttur and Sullia. The facilities provided in these private hospitals will be those that are not available at the government hospitals.

Higher pension demand

Endosulfan activists expressed the need for a hike in the monthly pension from Rs. 1,500 – Rs. 3,000 range to Rs. 3,000 – Rs. 5,000 range. Rs. 3,000 paid to the victims with serious ailment was too less compared to the expenses incurred by their families, said activist Peer Mohammed.

He also said permanent care centres were required for endosulfan victims who were bedridden.

Dr. Kumar said the government was arranging for medical camps every month in which specialists from psychiatry, orthopaedics, paediatrics, and speech and hearing will attend. This camp will be held at the Community Health Centre in Kadaba and Taluka hospitals in Puttur and Belthangady.

More victims to be included

The district administration has decided to conduct a drive for a few days from February 1 to identify victims of endosulfan.

Deputy Commissioner A.B. Ibrahim said during his recent visit to day-care centre in Kokkada that there were complaints that several victims of endosulfan have been left out. Medical Officer S.B. Arun Kumar said those who had been left out could approach medical officers at the local government hospital. The district administration will get such victims examined by specialists and then decide on including them in list.

ICMR asked to conduct study

The District Health and Family Welfare department wrote to the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) a few days ago, to fund research on genetic problems resulting from exposure to endosulfan. It has also asked the ICMR for a report on the environmental impact of endosulfan.

Medical Officer Arun Kumar told a meeting here on Saturday that two local medical colleges have come forward to carry out the study. “We are awaiting reply from the ICMR,” he said. Deputy Commissioner A.B. Ibrahim said he will pursue it through the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

More In: Mangalore