Concerned over the skewed sex ratio, particularly child sex ratio, in the country, Union Health and Family Welfare Ministry has recommended setting up of State Inspection and Monitoring Committees to facilitate inspection of ultrasound (USG) machines especially in districts which have heavy concentration of ultrasound clinics or Imaging centres.

Technology should also be leveraged to facilitate filing of online information so that not only information of registered clinics but also action taken for seizures of machines, cases filed against defaulting practitioners can be put in public domain and online filing of complaints by informers could also be possible. States were also advised to work in coordination to regulate activities of ultra sound clinics in neighbouring border districts for proper registration of machines so that these are not used for sex determination.

These recommendations came at the end of a day long review meeting of the implementation of the Pre-conception & Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (PC & PNDT) Act. Seventeen States, where the child sex ratio has been reported to be low by the recent census data, were called for the meeting.

In his opening remarks, Union Health and Family Welfare Secretary, K.Chandramauli noted that more needs to be done at ground level to ensure stringent action against violators. He said he would soon be taking up the matter with the State Chief Secretaries to involve the district administration for the enforcement of the law.

Closer coordination with advocacy activities of Department of Women and Child Development could also help improve the implementation of the Act and it was suggested that civil registration system should be strengthened to track sex ratio at birth so that real time data is available to State authorities.

The issues related to identification and mapping of districts for skewed child sex ratio – interstate coordination mechanism for regulating activities of ultra sound (USG) clinics in border districts; status of enforcement of PC & PNDT Act at State/District/Sub-District level – constitution/notification and meetings of State Supervisory Board, dedicated PNDT cell at State/district level; sub-district level – registration and renewal of clinics, regulation of mobile/portable/ multi registration of machines, monitoring of form – F (for maintenance of record by USG clinic/Imaging centre); and follow up of court conviction cases and capacity building were also discussed at the meeting.

Concluding the discussions the Special Secretary P. K. Pradhan asked the States to ensure that their State/District/ Sub-District Appropriate Authorities are not just notified but are actively made functional. He said if required, States can utilize the National Rural Health Mission funds to strengthen their PC PNDT cell and legislative assistance to build strong cases for conviction to ensure exemplary action against defaulters.

The meeting noted that the absolute decline from 927 (2001) to 914 (2011) in the child sex ratio figure at national level and the declining trend evident in 27 States/UTs – particularly Haryana with 830, is a matter of grave concern. Jhajjar and Mahendragarh in Haryana emerged in the country with the lowest CSR of 774 and 778 respectively. Data for 346 districts in 11 States (released so far) shows 6 districts recorded CSR below 800; 47 districts between 800-850 and 103 districts between 850-900 against the national average of 914.

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