The Maharashtra government is shoring up its ammunition in preparation of war. It’s a good war, for a just cause — to annihilate the rampant female foeticide that’s sweeping the state. The issue has been steadily climbing the charts of government’s agenda for some time now. For instance, in a meeting with senior police officials yesterday, home minister RR Patil and public health minister Suresh Shetty offered a free hand to top cops to go all out against the culprits.
A few hours later, in another conference by Shetty with senior officials of the state administration, Maharashtra Medical Council, and representatives of Indian Medical Association, it was decided to cancel registrations of doctors conducting sex-determination tests. Vikas Kharge, an IAS officer, who is the state’s director for the rural health mission, will work as coordinator between the council and the government.
The appropriate authorities specifically appointed to keep a check and report against sex-determination tests will pinpoint the doctors involved in the practice to Kharge, who will recommend the case to MMC for cancellation of the physicians’ registration. Apart from the public health minister, state chief secretary J K Banthia too appeared quite hard-lined on the issue when he asked MMC chief Dr Kishor Daori to take immediate action against such doctors. He said medical practitioners involved in sex determination and subsequent abortion were committing a social crime. He also asked MMC members why the body was not initiating suo motu action against offending doctors, something they had vowed to do.
Vijaykumar Achaliya, secretary of the law and judiciary department, asked for registration of foolproof cases against errant doctors to withstand the matter in courts. It was also decided to review the scenario on the first Monday of every month. The meeting also decided to publicise the names of offending practitioners with details of cancellation of their registrations so they could not indulge in clandestine practicing.
Life, death, politics
Meanwhile, the issue is gaining political overtones in Beed district, where the highest number of such cases have been reported. As many as eight office bearers of NCP have demanded removal of district civil surgeon Dr Gauri Rathod for her negligence towards female foeticides.
Interestingly, government officials say, the civil surgeon played a pivotal role in sealing the two hospitals from the district indulging in sex-determination tests and abortions. According to them, similar action had never been taken before. A memorandum, submitted to the public health minister, signed by Sanjay Holkar — corporator of Beed Municipal Council and general secretary of the state unit of NCP — and seven office bearers of local NCP units, has demanded Dr Rathod be suspended.
In response to a letter written by minister Suresh Shetty, actor Aamir Khan has urged him to make purchases of generic medicines, which will enable the state to make available costly drugs at cheapest rates.
“A similar exercise has been undertaken by the state of Rajasthan and it will make good quality medicines available at very affordable rates and much below current prices. This will be a great service to the people of the state,” Aamir has said in his letter.