Eye doctors get Delhi HC stay on ministry order to register ultrasound devices
The AIOS approached the Delhi High Court in response to a June 11, 2018, order issued by the health ministry that directed registration of machines used even for ophthalmology (eye), echocardiography (heart), urology (kidney etc), among others under the (PC&PNDT) Act, 1994.Updated: Jan 14, 2019 12:50 IST
The All India Ophthalmology Society (AIOS) has managed to get a stay on the Union health ministry’s order that sought registration of all ultrasound equipment under the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PC&PNDT) Act, 1994.
The society that has about 21,000 eye specialists across India approached the Delhi High Court in response to a June 11, 2018, order issued by the ministry that directed registration of machines used even for ophthalmology (eye), echocardiography (heart), urology (kidney etc), among others under the said Act.
“In eye clinics the equipment has various uses, including determining the length of the eyeball, or scan the back of the eye for conditions such as opaque cornea. These scans, called A scan and B scan, however, cannot be used for sex determination under normal circumstances as these equipment neither have the frequency nor the penetration depth to penetrate the skin,” says Delhi-based, Dr Mahipal Sachdev, vice president, AIOS.
The order was on the basis of a Central Supervisory Board (constituted under PC&PNDT Act) meeting held on January 24, 2018, that makes it mandatory for all the facilities engaged either “partially” or “exclusively” in counselling or conducting diagnostic tests, procedures etc with the potential of sex selection to be registered with the government.
“After the deliberations, it was concluded that the diagnostic machines have possibility of upgradation and there is a likelihood of attaching multiple probes in the ultrasound machines, hence, could be misused to detect the sex of the foetus,” read the ministry order.
The AIOS members, however, feel that this regulation was unnecessary as there haven’t been complaints of misuse of these machines by eye-specialists,.
“Eye specialists might end up surrendering their machine as it isn’t feasible to maintain the paperwork that’s going to be bulky as the technique is used also in cataract procedures and nearly 6.5 million people undergo the procedure annually in India,” said Jaipur-based Dr Mukesh Sharma, secretary, Rajasthan Ophthalmological Society.
“While we are all in support of the implementation of the Act, this particular order doesn’t serve any purpose. It is likely to cause unnecessary harassment, so we want the government to re-think about the order,” he said.
The Delhi High Court stayed the ministry order on January 9 and issued a notice to the Centre to reply to the petition. The next date of hearing has been fixed for July 17, 2019.
First Published: Jan 14, 2019 12:50 IST