The overall sex ratio in the age group up to six years may have improved in Punjab, but when it comes to Patiala, there is a significant decline in the past decade. There are suggestions that this is an outcome of parents not caring as much about the girls. At least that is what data from the city's premier medical institute, Government Rajindra Hospital, suggests.
The sex ratio (0-6) in Punjab has improved from 798 girls per 1,000 boys in 2001, to 846 in the latest census carried out in 2011. Patiala has slipped here. From 886 girls to each 1,000 boys in the 0-6 age bracket as per the 2001 census, the district now has 835 girls to 1,000 boys in this category, as per the 2011 count.
In spite of that, at Rajindra hospital, 948 girls were born to each 1,000 boys in 2011. Nearly 2,000 births take place at the hospital each year. But that's just the matter of being allowed to take birth.
At the time of the first immunisation, scheduled one and a half month after birth, the ratio of girls (0-6) brought to the hospital was 753 against 1,000 boys. Worse, in the outpatient department (OPD), only 453 girls were brought in against 1,000 boys. As for indoor admission cases, 498 girls were admitted against each 1,000 boys.
It has come down from 2010, when 899 girls were born against each 1,000 boys, while only 752 girls aged up to 6 were brought for immunisation. OPD cases were 557 girls against 1,000 boys, while only 568 girls were admitted for detailed examination as against each 1,000 boys. The figures were almost similar in 2009.
WHY NO FOLLOW-UP
Experts opine that though the government has somehow managed to check female foeticide by spreading awareness regarding consequences of the problem and by implementing laws like the Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PNDT) Act, the parents reluctantly take care of the new born girl.
Head of the paediatric department at the hospital, Dr Harshinder Kaur, termed such careless attitude as a deliberate attempt to get rid of the child. "The figures are very alarming, and there is an instant need to take preventive steps to protect girls from such deliberate killings," she said.
"On a daily basis, we deal with a number of cases where the parents refuse to allow admission of a sick girl child, no matter how serious the little kid is," she added. However, the health authorities do not have any records of girl children who died at their homes owing to lack of medical treatment. "The parents fail to collect death certificates, and it makes such data collection difficult. People think such certificates are of no use," said a senior health official.
Dr Harshinder Kaur suggested that free treatment for girls at government and private hospitals could help. "Also, auxiliary midwives appointed by the government should keep record of immunisation and other medical follow-ups, particularly in villages," she said, also suggesting that girl students be asked at schools if they have been mistreated.