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News : Lack of Awareness Hits PCPNDT Helpline
Nashik, India, Feb 12, 2016 -- A few sonography centres in the district are facing court cases and a few others have been suspended or sealed but the awareness about reporting malpractices by sonography centres is missing.
Two brothers from Malegaon have been charged under the Pre-Conception Pre-Natal diagnostics Techniques (PCPNDT) Act, 1994, while court procedures are underway against five other sonography centres in the rural areas and charges are to be framed against one more centre.
District civil surgeon Suresh Jagdale said charges have been framed against two brothers from Malegaon, one being a gynaecologist and another who ran a sonography centre, have been booked. If proven guilty, they could face three years of rigorous imprisonment and fine of Rs 50,000 each, he said.
Jagdale said more people should come forward and inform the district health department about the malpractices at sonography centres.
Health department officials said there is lack of awareness among citizens about the mechanism to report the malpractices at sonography centres. The state health department launched a helpline number -18002334475-about four years ago to curb sex determination tests. The helpline, however, has evoked lukewarm response. The calls on the helpline have not resulted in a single case.
Suvarna Shefal, district legal counsellor of PCPNDT Act, said, "This is apparently because people feel that they will have to endure long legal hassles if they report the malpractice to anyone. In fact, if anyone reports about the practice of sex determination at any sonography centre and the charge is proved, the complainant gets prize money of Rs 25,000."
Vigilant citizens can also report on the website if they come across sex determination being carried out by doctors in a clandestine manner as well as illegal abortion in their areas.
Officials said the district collector, civil surgeon, medical superintendent, tehsildars, commissioner and deputy commissioner of municipal corporations, chief executive officers of municipalities, medical health officers also have the power to initiate raids, investigation if they get complaints about malpractice by sonography centres. It is compulsory for the officials concerned to check sonography centres after a gap of 90 days.
Shefal said they also kept a watch on women, whose first child is a girl or they have two daughters. The chances of these women coming in contact with such sonography centres were more.
Meanwhile, Asha workers, who are present all across the district, have also been instructed to keep a vigil on pregnant women in their jurisdiction and check if they are into getting sex determination test done.
Shefal said directors of sonogrophy centres and the medical practitioners were more aware about the stringent Act, people should also not force gynaecologists to get the sex determination test done as they too could face imprisonment and fine as per the provision in the PCPNDT Act.
No action against those 56 sonography centres
The 56 sonography centres, who were issued show-cause notices by the district civil surgeon Suresh Jagdale in January 15 for failing to submit the monthly report of all the preconception or pregnancy related tests conducted by them, have come clean in the investigation.
The concerned sonography centres spread all across the district were instructed to reply to the show-cause notice on why they failed to submit the monthly report. Officials said while the sonography centres had sent their monthly report on time, there was delay on part of the concerned medical superintendents of the rural areas in forwarding the report further. Hence no action has been taken against the 56 sonography centres.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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Published: Tuesday, February 16, 2016