The Health Department has ordered action against four private hospitals in Salem, Krishnagiri and Erode for violations under Assisted Reproductive Technology (Regulation) Act and Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) Act based on the inquiry report on the case of a minor being forced to donate oocytes, Health Minister Ma. Subramanian said.
Last month, the case of a 16-year-old girl being forced to donate her oocytes using a fake Aadhaar card had surfaced following which police arrested four persons including her mother, mother’s partner and a woman intermediary. An inquiry team led by A. Viswanathan, Joint Director of Medical and Rural Health Services, was formed, and the final report was submitted on July 7.
“The team conducted inquiries at Sudha Hospital, Erode, Sudha Hospital, Salem, Ramaprasad Hospital, Perundurai and Vijay Hospital, Hosur. Inquiry was also held with doctors of Mathrutva Test Tube Baby Centre in Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh and Sri Krishna Hospital, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala,” Mr. Subramanian told reporters on Thursday.
The six hospitals have violated various provisions of the Assisted Reproductive Technology (Regulation) Act, Indian Council of Medical Research guidelines, Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act and Tamil Nadu Clinical Establishments Act, he said.
Listing the violations committed by the hospitals, he said only one side of the Aadhaar card - a fake one prepared with a different name and date of birth - was submitted whereas both sides of the document were obtained from other donors. This showed that the hospitals obtained the girl’s Aadhaar card knowing that it was fake, he said.
It has been established that there was commercial donation at these hospitals. There were no qualified counsellors, the pros and cons of oocyte donation were not explained to the girl before donation, ultrasound images were not stored at the hospitals. The hospitals were unable to submit all documents required by the inquiry committee, he said, adding that the girl was forced to donate oocytes several times. The Aadhaar card was not verified. The approval that should be obtained from the spouse was obtained from some person, he further said.
“As per the ART Act, an oocyte donor aged 21 to 35 years having at least one child can donate only once in her lifetime,'' he added.
“Based on the inquiry report, we have instructed the joint directors of medical and rural health services in Salem, Krishnagiri and Erode to initiate legal proceedings against the four hospitals. For the two hospitals outside the State, the Health Secretary will write to the respective State governments recommending action,” the Minister said.
In the light of violations under provisions of the PCPNDT Act, steps would be taken as per the law to immediately close down the scan centres in these hospitals, he said. “Sudha Hospital, Erode and Vijay Hospital, Hosur are empanelled in the Chief Minister’s Comprehensive Health Insurance Scheme. We are immediately removing the two hospitals from the scheme,” he said.
The department would recommend to the Tamil Nadu Medical Council to take disciplinary action on the respective doctors. “We will take action on the hospitals under the Tamil Nadu Clinical Establishments Act. We are granting the four hospitals 15 days time to discharge all in-patients after treatment. Following this, appropriate steps to shut down the hospitals as per rules will be taken,” he said.
He said that the Directorate of Medical and Rural Health Services would release guidelines for ART services for hospitals.
Maximum punishment for those involved would be ensured. As per the ART Act, they can be fined up to ₹50 lakh and 10 years of imprisonment, Mr. Subramanian said.
Health Secretary P. Senthilkumar and Director of Medical and Rural Health Services S. Gurunathan were present during the press meet.