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Wednesday 11 January 2012

Doctors fear, Malegaon becoming a hub for sex determination tests

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Tuesday January 10, 2012 07:07:58 PM, Staff Reporter
Malegaon: Radiologists of Malegaon say pre-natal sex determination tests have never been an option for them. For, compared to the population and area of the city, number of sonography centres in Malegaon is far less than the actual requirement. Due to which the daily patient turnover they get is enough to keep them going.

It is perhaps why the local authorities at the time when the entire country is keeping an extra vigil on sonography centres, barring routine assessment of the patient records, have not done anything extraordinary for creating awareness against the illegal test.

This, however, doesn’t mean that all is well in this Muslim dominated city in North Maharashtra. A well informed source revealed to that taking advantage of the lenient approach of the local authorities few diagnostic centres in Malegaon are violating the Pre-Conception & Pre-Natal Diagnostic Technologies (PC-PNDT) Act and are conducting sex determination tests on regular basis.

Malegaon in numbers
(as per 2011 Census)
Total Population: 4, 71,006
Male Population: 239,243
Female Population: 231,763
Children (0-6): 74,494
Sex Ratio: 1000:971
Registered Sonography centres: 28
Gynaecologists: 32
“They are charging around 15 to 20 times more than the normal sonography charges for conducting these tests. Some of these centres are even offering facilities for abortion in their clinics”, the source said on the condition of anonymity.

“In fact about a month ago, a patient went for abortion after she was conducted upon the sex determination test at a local sonography centre. The surgery unfortunately resulted in incomplete abortion. When the patient went home she found the foetus hanging out. The patient was rushed to other hospital where the surgery was done again”, the source recalled.

According to the source, the patient had opted for abortion since she was already having two daughters and was not willing to have any more girl-child. In a tragic turn of event, after the second surgery it was found that the radiologist had in fact made a mistake and the patient was actually carrying a male foetus. The matter reportedly resulted in a big issue and it was settled only after the radiologist reportedly paid a huge amount to the kin of the patient.

This is not just one incident. The doctors spoke to reveal that after the alert against the illegal test sounded in other cities, they are receiving frequent calls from neighbouring places like Pimpalgaon, Niphad and Manmad enquiring if they could get the tests done in Malegaon. A radiologist admits that he finds at least one patient every day coming to his centre to enquire about the sex determination test.

“They may be pranks or dummy patients sent to check if we are doing these tests. But I do meet at least one patient every day who come and ask about the sex determination test”, the radiologist said.

When spoke to the concerned officer in the health department, he looked quite satisfied though could not give a guarantee that the illegal tests were not being conducted in Malegaon.

“We are regularly keeping track of all the records received from the sonography centres. It is perhaps why Malegaon has a satisfactory sex ratio. Yet it can’t be said for sure that the illegal tests are not being conducted here”, Dr. Bharat Wagh, Health Officer of Malegaon said backing his claim with the statistics that show Malegaon has a male female sex ratio of 1000:971 – as against National average of 1000:914 and the state average of 1000:883.

Dr Wagh also attributed the better sex ratio in Malegaon to the vast majority of Muslims, who the doctor said, are not much concerned about the sex of the child.

Some of the main reasons for the declining sex ratio, the doctor said, are the dowry given at the time of marriages and the belief in some religions because of which many still consider a girl-child as inauspicious. 

Dr Wagh however was totally tight-lipped on outsiders coming to Malegaon for conducting the illegal tests. But the local doctors feel that in view of the tight vigil in the neighbouring cities, if the local administration doesn’t take precautions Malegaon faces the danger of becoming a safe-haven for the people doing the illegal sex determination tests.

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