Concerned at the skewed sex ratio as reflected in the latest Census report, the Centre has asked the Medical Council of India to take cognisance of the practice of illegal sex selection and sex selective abortion.

The MCI has been told to ensure that guidelines for accreditation of training and experience for medical practitioners are put in place quickly. The process of regular reviews with 18 States that have the most adverse sex ratios is also under way.

"The MCI should also make sure that registration of doctors found guilty of violation under the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act, 1994, is suspended or cancelled immediately in accordance with the provisions of the Act," Union Health and Family Welfare Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said at the first meeting of the newly reconstituted Central Supervisory Board (CSB).

While acknowledging that the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare was entrusted with the responsibility of preventing the misuse of medical techniques for sex determination, both before and after conception, he said the implementation of the PC & PNDT Act rests with the State governments. "There is need to strengthen implementation structures and systems in the States."

The Minister said the Central government had taken up PC & PNDT as an important focus area under the National Rural Health Mission. "We are providing funds to the States for setting up and strengthening PNDT cells, both at the State and district levels, for intensifying IEC activities and for other State level interventions. We have also put in place a National Inspection and Monitoring Committee with the objective of undertaking surprise inspections across States," he said.

On its part, the Ministry has recently revised the guidelines for giving financial assistance to NGOs for supporting effective enforcement of the PC & PNDT Act. The Minister asked the CSB members to suggest measures to keep pace with the rapidly changing technology and promote the desired changes in socio-cultural values and behaviours.

After the day-long deliberations, the CSB recommended that the National Inspection and Monitoring Committee and the State Monitoring and Inspection Committees be empowered to oversee follow-up action by the District Appropriate Authority on irregularities found during inspections. If required, they could take recourse to Section 28 (b) of the Act which empowered a person other than the DAA to file a case if the DAA failed to take action within 15 days. The CSB also accepted the need for regulating mobile genetic clinics, which were being grossly misused. The MCI representative said detailed framework for accreditation of training and experience would be put in place on priority.

At the meeting, it was reported that according to the quarterly progress reports submitted by States/UTs, 42,190 medical units were registered under the PC&PNDT Act, 298 machines were sealed and seized for violations of the law and a total of 843 court cases filed under the Act and 55 convictions secured.

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