After failing to doctor the skewed sex ratio in the state with mere first aid, the government has plans to conduct open-heart surgery. The Democratic Front (DF) cabinet will soon take up the issue of implementation of Clinical Establishment Act ratified by the centre in 2010 to regulate the medical field. The step comes at a time when the DF government is facing severe embarrassment over rampant incidents of female foeticide in several parts of the state.
Even as the Act was passed by parliament the year before last, the state government was dragging its feet on implementing it. The legislation offers sweeping powers to the state- appointed district-level and state-level councils to register, regulate and realise the standards prescribed by it for all types of hospitals including maternity homes, nursing homes, dispensaries, clinics etc.
What ails the state
Besides, the Act aims at regulating laboratories and medical centres that conduct diagnostic, screening and monitoring tests. On the other hand, the existing Bombay Nursing Homes Act, formulated by the state has no such provision. According to a senior official, the sex determination tests conducted under the guise of sonography have proved to be a major concern. The state government will appoint district collector as the chief of the district-level council to regulate and monitor all hospitals and medical labs. Being the district magistrate, the collector gets sweeping powers and can conduct periodic checks, assess the performance and take effective action against erring professionals and their clinics. This will certainly prove as a deterrent to the growing menace of sex determination tests.
Public health minister Suresh Shetty had assured to introduce the central legislation as early as possible on the floor of the state assembly during the budget session held in March-April this year. On Monday, the minister directed his officers to ask all medical practitioners to forward details of pregnant women referred for sonography tests to appropriate authorities at various levels.
Killing the unborn
The government was alarmed by the growing incidents of female foeticide in the state. Recently, five such incidents were reported from Beed district alone. Cases have been registered against Dr Sudam Munde and his wife Dr Saraswati for the death of a 30-year-old woman during abortion. Also, cases have been slapped against Dr Shivaji Sanap from the same town for allegedly carrying out three illegal abortions, including on a minor girl.
Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan has announced a Rs five-lakh reward for anyone who will provide crucial information on sex determination tests conducted anywhere in the state. Meanwhile, the Clinical Establishment Act will make it binding for all types of hospitals to follow standards in healthcare set by medical councils at the state and national level. For any offence, a council can levy penalties ranging from Rs 10,000 to Rs five lakh.