Friday, 23 October 2015

IMA demands amendments to the PCPNDT Act

IMA demands amendments to the PCPNDT Act

The PNDT Act came into being with the purpose of improving the altered sex ratio in India. It was further amended PCPNDT Act to regulate the technology used in sex selection. The Act banned preconception and prenatal sex determination. Its intent was to curb the actual act of sex selection and female feticide by regulating the use of ultrasound technology. 

WHO in its recent publication has clearly declared that restricting technology was not the way forward and there is a lot that still needs to be done in this direction. .

Despite the Act having been in existence for over 20 years, the altered sex ratio in India has not changed. Instead, the act has had two major negative consequences:

• In its current form, the implementation of the PCPNDT Act has deprived the community of life-saving and essential ultrasonography which has now become an extension of clinical practice for all specialties globally, being a well-known non-invasive, cost-effective and accurate diagnostic tool.

• The current PCPNDT Act has made it extremely difficult for ultrasound clinics to ensure complete enforcement. Doctors and other medical professionals are being put to extreme hardship while performing routine and essential scans. Due to this, many qualified doctors are opting not to do PNDT scans, thus creating a shortage of experts trained in ultrasonography.

Speaking on this issue, Padma Shri Awardee, A Marthanda Pillai – National President and Padma Shri Awardee, Dr K K Aggarwal – Honorary Secretary General and President HCFI in a joint statement said, “As the PCPNDT Act has not resulted in the improvement of the falling sex ratio, social rather than medical interventions will be required to handle this issue effectively. The Act is being used to punish doctors for minor offences such as clerical errors in the filling of forms, thereby resulting in doctors being prosecuted and ultrasound machines being seized and sealed. Collectively IMA has put together some amendments which are required to solve this crisis”.

IMA demands the following amendments:

• The Act needs urgent modification to allow unambiguous and easy interpretation. The “Rules” need to be simplified and implemented uniformly across the country, and adhoc changing of rules by each local authority should be strictly prohibited. New rules must be logical and should apply to the entire country only after due discussion with the representative bodies. Time should be given for implementation of the new rules.

• The Act is to be directed only towards Obstetric Ultrasound and not any other applications of ultrasonography.

• The word “Offence” under this act has to be clearly defined. The word Offence should only mean the “actual act of sex determination or female feticide”.

• All other clerical/administrative errors should be classified as non-compliance (and not an offence). Strict penalties can only be imposed for the actual act of sex determination or female feticide and not for other errors. There is a need to redefine “what amounts to sex determination” as mere evidence of clerical error does not amount to sex determination. “Imprisonment” rules should be for the offence (of sex determination or female feticide) & not for non-compliance.

• Inspections should be conducted yearly instead of every 90 days. No NGO can conduct “raids” on doctors’ premises and there should be no impediment to doctors doing their practice during inspections.

• Ultrasonologists should not be restricted to working in only two centers.

• The doctors should have the right to report on those seeking sex determinations and action must be initiated against them immediately.

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