State to track pregnant women seeking treatment in Punjab

Jaswinder Singh Baidwan

Akhran da mureed
Staff member
Concerned over declining sex ratio in its areas bordering Punjab, Himachal has decided to ask the neighbouring state to provide details of all pregnant women seeking treatment at any health institution, private or government under its jurisdiction.
Himachal will raise this issue at the meeting of the Principal Secretaries (Health) of the three states to be held later this week on the issue of Pre Natal Diagnostic Test (PNDT) Act 1994 which is directly related to the issue of female foeticide.
The problem of declining sex ratio has become a major cause of concern in the bordering districts of Una and Nalagarh and Baddi area of Solan and also in Hamirpur. There are 24 panchayats in district Una where the sex ratio has fallen below 500.
“Since the problem of low sex ratio is more in the areas bordering Punjab, we will seek details of all pregnant women who seek treatment in any Punjab health institution so that we are able to track the pregnancy and ensure that there is no illegal abortions,” said Vineet Chawdhry, Additional Chief Secretary, Health and Family Welfare. He added that Punjab will be requested to undertake stricter monitoring of all ultrasound centres and action against the unregistered ones.
The overall sex ratio of HP as per 2011 census is 909 with Una having the lowest figure of 875, followed by 876 in Kangra, 887 in Hamirpur, 899 in Solan and 900 in Bilaspur. The highest ratio is in Lahaul Spiti at 1033 followed by 963 in Kinnaur. Even though Hamirpur district does not share a boundary with Punjab, easy accessibility is probably the main reason for low sex ratio.
In fact, to get to the root cause of the problem, the Health Department has ordered tracking of all pregnancies, births and child immunization record in the entire state during the last one year.
This has been done to be able to identify the gaps and the main problem for the declining child sex ratio, especially in the border areas. To check the problem of low child sex ratio in the border districts, Himachal has written to Punjab in the past to check illegal ultrasound machines and clinics operating in its area in the border towns like Pathankot and Ropar.
Licenses of two ultrasound clinics in Kullu an Bilaspur were cancelled last year for violation of the Pre-Natal Diagnostic Test Act 1994.
The government has already announced that panchayats with good sex ratio will be given additional incentives while those who fare badly on this front could be given disincentives, including lesser budgetary allocation. The government has also enhanced the grant to the couples having one and two girl child to Rs 35,000 and Rs 25,000 respectively, which is likely to be made Rs 40,000.
The low sex ratio figures in some panchayats of Una had even drawn the attention of the national Human Rights Commission.