New Delhi: Despite a law to curb female foeticide, the child sex-ratio in India has gone down over the last 20 years, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said Monday.
The minister said he has decided to set up an expert group to examine the new methods being used for gender determination of foetuses to get around the existing regulation of ultrasound machines.
“While misuse of ultrasound machines is still prevalent because it is cheap, newer medical technologies are increasingly being used in the name of ‘genetic testing’,” he said.
The minister was addressing members of the reconstituted Central Supervisory Board, the highest body overseeing the implementation of the Pre-Conception and Pre Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PC-PNDT) Act 1994.
“The use of simple blood tests that give away the sex of the foetus represents a new dimension to gender-specific foeticide,” he said.
While rules are in place to prevent misuse of ultrasound machines, very little is known about recent innovations brought to bear on sex selection, an official release said here.
Therefore, the minister has decided to form an expert group to identify the approaches and formulate responses in the form of an amendment to the act, it said.
Harsh Vardhan said: “Despite having the PC-PNDT Act for 20 years, the male to female child ratio which was 964 to 1,000 in 1971 has come down to 918 according to census 2011.”
The meeting was co-chaired by union Women and Child Development minister Maneka Gandhi.
She pointed out that it is mainly the upper middle and rich classes who avail of sex selection methods. They have a preference for fewer children and that too children who are male.
She added that several amendments are necessary in the act and hoped the health ministry would provide the technical inputs.