Pocket-sized ultrasound machines imported from China are posing a fresh challenge to the health authorities across the country. Such machines - used for the sex determination of the foetus- have flooded the market in the absence of a regulatory check and are virtually impossible to track in the absence of an appropriate regulatory control under the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PC-PNDT) Act, 1994.
"There is an obligation under Section 3-B of the PC-PNDT Act that ultra sound and imaging machines and scanners- capable of detecting the sex of foetus- will not be sold to any genetic counseling centre or laboratory or a person who is not registered under the Act. However, there is no such stipulation of being registered for the importers of such equipment,'' said State Drugs Controller, Dr GL Singhal.
Commissioner, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Secretary, Health, Haryana, Dr Rakesh Gupta in a June 16 communique to Union Health Secretary wrote that no regulatory control has been provided for manufacture, sale, import and distribution of such equipment in the PC-PNDT Act.
The health authorities, Dr Singhal said, tracked down a pregnant woman from Jind who went all the way to Jamalpur in Bhiwani district to get the foetus tested by quack. " When we raided the place earlier this year, we found the perpetrator using a pocket sized Chinese ultra sound machine. That was the first time we saw this pocket sized machine,'' he said.
The health authorities after getting an FIR registered tracked the vendor of the pocket sized machine to Bhagirath Place in Delhi. The vendor was subsequently arrested by Delhi police. " His questioning gave further leads. We came to know that a similar portable machine has been sold in Kaithal's Kithana village. Finally, we zeroed in on a godown in Manesar where a decoy customer was sent to strike a deal. Following the registration of a case the authorities got another lead to Bahadurgarh where a company was assembling portable ultra sound machines.
Officials said that there was a need to have a regulatory control under the Act to ensure that importers are also registered. "This will help us in tracking down the portable units sold by these importer,'' they said.
Commissioner, FDA in his communication to the Union Health Ministry has said that in view of the bursting of a racket of import of Chinese mobile ultra sound machines (which are small in size, easy to carry and cost effective) and their illegal sale, it is requested that suitable provisions for regulating the manufacture, sale, stock, import of these machines by way of registration under the PC-PNDT Act be made.