Health Dept in Dock Over Illegal Sex Determination

The last week’s incident of female foetus lying abandoned in the city has put the Health Department in the dock over inaction to curb the illegal practice of sex determination and abortion.

On July 31, a female foetus was recovered from a vacant plot at Gurbux Colony. The police confirmed that the foetus was found in a vacant plot in the colony, following which they had registered a case against an unknown woman and her accomplice.

A case under Sections 318 (concealment of birth by secret disposal of dead body) and 315 (Act done with intent to prevent child being born alive or to cause it to die after birth) of the Indian Penal Code was registered at the Lahori Gate police station.

Reacting to this incident, Civil Surgeon Harish Malhotra said, “Immediately after the incident, I asked Auxiliary nurse midwife (ANM) workers to conduct a survey of the pregnant women in Patiala.”

He further said, “Sometimes, some miscreants do such activities, but we are following this case seriously.”

But it was not the first time that the Health Department’s failure was highlighted in this regard. This year in June, the Kaithal Health Department had busted an inter-state illegal sex determination and abortion racket at Wadi’s Hospital at Bahadurgarh, a town 20 km away from Patiala.

The raid by the Kaithal Health Department, actually, had caught the Patiala Health Department and the district administration unaware of the illegal activities at the hospital.

A senior official of the Kaithal Health Department, Narendra Raj Rana, then, had said it was very sad that such activities were being carried out in the Chief Minister’s hometown and that was also a failure of the Patiala district administration.

However, the Health Department says otherwise. As per the Patiala Health Department, so far, 195 inspections have been conducted in Patiala district in 2018 and a notice was served to 10 ultrasound centres.

Civil Surgeon Harish Malhotra said, “We are trying our best to curb the banned practice. We have started the surveillance of the ultrasound centres to keep a check. In future, we are planning to take the help of the state intelligence to put an end on such practices.”

To tackle this issue, the department has held 11advisory committee meetings during the current year. Moreover, the Patiala Health Department has terminated two ASHA workers for their involvement in illegal sex-determination. – The Tribune

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