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Nothing voluntary about it

delhi Updated: Aug 02, 2007 01:40 IST
Sanchita Sharma

Parents of students who had doctors examine their genitals and breasts as part of a medical check-up had a right to be outraged. "The Indian Medical Council Act states that consent should be voluntary and informed, and confidentiality of data collected for research should be assured," says Dr A Sampath Kumar, chief, Cardio Thoracic Sciences Centre, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, and author of Patients’ Rights.

In the case of minors — as happened in Sardar Patel Vidyalaya (SPV) — there is need for extra caution. "The guardian should be told what exactly will be done, on the tests being conducted or whether the child is expected to strip. The parent or guardian also needs to be present if stripping or genital examination is involved, to prevent chances of possible molestation," says Kumar.

Agrees Dr Chander Mohan Gulati, the medical expert on the committee set up by the National Commission of Protection of Child Rights to look into the issue: "The examination at SPV was in the nature of Observational Clinical Studies and not done to benefit students. Its primary aim was to collect data for the benefit of Health Care and Research Association for Adolescents and its office bearers."