Dennis Marcus Mathew

Corporate hospitals too found violating the law; 87 ultrasound scan machines seized

Pregnant women undergoing treatment at errant hospital found to be from Bidar in KarnatakaSome 87 ultrasound scan machines seized, prosecution initiated against 16 centresNumber of registered scanning centres in the city up from last year's 398 to 469Drop in Hyderabad's sex ratio Pregnant women undergoing treatment at errant hospital found to be from Bidar in KarnatakaSome 87 ultrasound scan machines seized, prosecution initiated against 16 centresNumber of registered scanning centres in the city up from last year's 398 to 469Drop in Hyderabad's sex ratio

HYDERABAD: The message is loud and clear. No violator of the Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act, which prohibits scanning of the foetus to reveal its sex, will go scot-free.

Saturday's incident where a prominent hospital was booked for violation of the act has just reaffirmed the message. It has revealed a few facts too. First, that it is not just small clinics that are violators, but major corporate hospitals too are allegedly not averse to bending laws.

Second, and the more worrying one is that some of the pregnant women undergoing treatment at the said hospital were from Bidar in Karnataka. The place assumes significance because Bidar has long been on the black list for female foeticide.

Surprising development

"It was a big surprise for me," says district Collector Arvind Kumar. Hitherto, most cases were from the city and neighbouring districts. Understandably, Bidar does not sound music to officials here. "It means we have to be more careful and stricter," Mr. Kumar says.

The Collector and District Medical and Health Officer S. Satyavathi along with their teams have so far succeeded in injecting some fear of law into the scanning centres. This is after they seized 87 ultrasound scan machines and initiated prosecution against 16 centres, of which eight are popular corporate hospitals. Seventy-four machines were returned after the owners fell in line.

On the other side, the number of registered scanning centres in the city has gone up to 469 from last year's 398. However, with almost every lane in the city having at least one scan centre, 469 could be just a crumb.

Mr. Kumar's efforts to implement the PNDT Act began last year after a comparative study of census reports of 1991 and 2001 revealed that Hyderabad's sex ratio in the age group of 0-6 had dropped from 963 to 942 females per 1,000 males. The State capital had the least sex ratio in this age group, with Ranigunj recording the lowest among wards with 838. Even in the general sex ratio, Hyderabad with 933 was the lowest among the 23 districts. The low sex ratio has no other explanation but sex-selective foeticide, abortions and neglect of the girl child resulting in young mortality, he adds.

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