(G.N.S) Dt. 04
Curbing sex-selective abortions will no more be just the responsibility of the health department in Tamil Nadu. In a steps towards curbing the rampant practice of foeticide in various districts, the departments of social welfare and IT have been roped in to identify hotspots and monitor pregnant women. A state-level meeting was held last week among senior officials of the directorate of public health, social welfare department and Tamil Nadu e-governance agency to chart out measures to stop sex-selective abortion and to map the sex ratio at birth in all the districts to plan intervention.
In the last five years, the sex ratio at birth – the number of girls born per 1,000 boys – in the state has dipped to 911 in 2016-17 from 923 in 2011-12, according to the Tamil Nadu Health Management Information System. The difference is wider in most northern and central districts compared to those in the south. It isn’t just data that pin the declining trend. Social welfare officials say there has also been a drop in newborn girls being abandoned in hospitals under the cradle baby scheme. “From our field reports, we have strong reasons to believe it is because of a resurgence in foeticide,” said a senior official. Started in 1992, the cradle baby scheme has helped save 5,037 babies (as on June, 2017), including 4,066 female infants.
Officials say one of the main reasons why they suspect foeticide is because many women of higher order pregnancy – who have had more than one pregnancy – fail to return for follow-ups after the fourth month although they register in state programmes initially. During the discussion social welfare officials said they would contribute towards monitoring these women through their anganwadi centres and train their workers to tip off health officials if they suspect sex-selective abortions. Officials of the state e-governance agency said they would map “black spots” in the state — where such abortions are high — based on the data they receive from the primary health center-level onwards. Since 2016, the health department has come out with a slew of measures to curb foeticide in the state, including making it mandatory for all centers that do assisted reproductive techniques (ARTs) to submit monthly reports on the couples undergoing therapy, their status and the sex of the babies born at ART centres.
(G.N.S) Dt. 04