The central body of the Indian Radiological and Imaging Association (IRIA) and the Federation of Obstetricians and Gynaecological Society of India (FOGSI) have distanced themselves from the agitation of shutting down sonography machines for a day in protest against the PCPNDT Act.
The agitation, which Indian Medical Association (IMA) is supporting, has the backing of gynaecologists, cardiologists and ophthalmologists at the district units of IRIA and FOGSI. They will join the protest against provisions that recommend harsh punishment even for minor “clerical” mistakes.
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On Monday, cardiologists, ophthalmologists, gynaecologists and other doctors who use ultrasound machines met under the umbrella of Pune Sonologists Association and decided to participate in the stir.
Cardiologist Dr Jagdish Hiremath said use of ultrasound machine was vital to his profession. “We registered the machine as per PC-PNDT Act. The Act requires giving monthly reports on patients’ details and others and if there is a clerical mistake, it is treated as a criminal offence and the machine is sealed. That is unfair,” Hiremath said. Convenor of the association and radiologist Dr Viren Kulkarni said doctors were against the determination of sex of foetus.
Kulkarni said that of the 523 cases registered against doctors under the PC-PNDT Act, the majority relate to non-maintenance of records. Form F is to be filled for every pregnant woman who undergoes sonography and any error in that is treated as a criminal offence, Kulkarni said adding that the credibility of doctors has been questioned simply because court cases have been slapped on them for not properly filling the forms.
The IMA has supported the token shutdown and demanded that the Act be amended. Dr Jayesh Lele, president elect of the Maharashtra unit of IMA said. “We feel patients, our referring physicians, media and the general public need to be made aware of these issues. For this we are observing a ‘Sonography Shut Down’ day on April 15,” Kulkarni said adding that there will be no sonography examinations in private clinics and diagnostic centres in Pune district.
The decision to suport the strike was taken at IMA’s working committee meeting in Delhi on Saturday. The IRIA central unit decided not to participate.
Dr Jignesh Thakker, president of IRIA, said that they had talks with Health Minister Dr Deepak Sawant who assured them of taking up the matter. “We are not participating in any protest. It will be a workday like any other day. The state health minister has agreed to look into points raised by us. When the minister is already working on our demands, why should we protest?” Dr Thakker said. IRIA has 16,000 members in India.
Dr P Shah, former president of FOGSI said there were 30,000 members across India and the local level units had set up a panel of women activists, legal experts and others to find whether PC-PNDT Act is being followed or not. “We are doing our best to ensure the Act is followed. But severe punishment for medical person who may have made a clerical mistake by incorrectly filling the form is unfair. There need to be graded punishments and Act has to be amended.”