Radiologists across the state will soon have to fall in line and install a device in sonography machines that will help the government curb female foeticide.
The medical fraternity has been opposing the state’s plan as each device costs around Rs 28,000. The state on Monday decided it would pass a legislation to force doctors to install the device.
This decision was taken after Chief Minister Ashok Chavan met with Health Minister Suresh Shetty.
The instrument will feed the personal data of patients and the radio images to the main server, which will be installed in the Collector’s office.
The administration will use this data to verify whether the women who went for ultrasounds continued with their pregnancies or underwent abortion.
The vigil is stricter in case of women who have had a history of delivering girls.
Maharashtra’s sex ratio between 2007 and 2010, as per the state economic survey, stands at 922 females per 1,000 males.
The state has already launched the pilot project in Kolhapur three months ago and now plans to replicate the model across the state, including in Mumbai.
The city has more than 1,000 registered radiologists, the highest number in the state, while there are about 1,800 registered radiologists in the rest of the state and 10,000 across India.
“We will focus on districts where the rate of female infanticide is high. The official campaign will start in a week’s time,” Shetty told Hindustan Times.
Shetty believes practitioners can easily afford Rs 28,000.
“If they can buy machines worth more than Rs five lakh, then they can spend Rs 28,000 on this important device as well,” he said.
The state will appoint experts to study the Kolhapur model. “Experts will decide on the feasibility and how to go about the plan in the next three months,” Shetty added.
Sources in the health department said the state government would have to amend the Pre-conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act, 1994, to make it compulsory for practitioners to install the device.
Dr Kishore Taori, chairman of the Indian Radiological Imaging Association, said the medical fraternity was opposed to the plan.
In its August 31 edition, Hindustan Times had reported on the doctors’ protests against the instrument.
“The new law, if passed without consulting doctors, will amount to mental and financial harassment. I wish that innocent doctors are not punished or troubled unnecessarily,” Taori said, adding that instead, the state government should crack down on unregistered sonography machines in cities such as Mumbai.