The Centre has made it mandatory for clinics as well as radiology and diagnostic centres to register ultrasound tests of all pregnant women through an online form.
The requirement under the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Technique (PNDT) Act is part of efforts to curb female foeticide.
The decision to track all pregnancies — from conception to birth — was taken at a recent meeting of the central supervisory board (CSB), a committee set up to tackle issues under the law. The committee has streamlined the existing procedure for reporting ultrasound scans, making it paperless.
Under the PNDT Act, sonography clinics are supposed to submit a “Form F” with details of all pregnancy-related tests. The forms, available on the health ministry website, had to be downloaded, filled in by doctors and submitted in the first week of every month to the district’s chief medical officer of health.
But in many cases the forms were not filled properly or even submitted. The panel to scrutinise the forms has also failed to meet regularly.
Now, clinics and doctors have to log in to a soon-to-be-launched website which will act as a central database, fill in the forms and submit them online.
Jignesh Thakur, the secretary-general of the Indian Radiology and Imaging Association, welcomed the decision.
“We are happy with this development as in many cases Form Fs were not being filled. This (online) form will make it less cumbersome for doctors and it (the system) won’t accept an unfilled form,” Thakur, who was present at the CSB meeting, told The Telegraph.
“However, I don’t know how this data will help curb foeticide,” Thakur added.
“We have repeatedly asked the government to tell us how many female foeticides have been prevented using this form since it was introduced eight years ago. They have no answers.”
Some doctors, too, voiced the same concern, saying the new website would only help collect useless data with no way to find out if sex-determination tests had been conducted.
“This is yet another attempt by the government to be seen as doing something. Form Fs in this country are submitted, but never audited,” said Punit Bedi, a foetal medicine specialist at Apollo Indraprastha Hospital, New Delhi, who has been campaigning for stronger action against doctors involved in sex-determination tests.
Thakur said the best way to crack down on sex-determination tests would be to track all abortions around the twelfth week of pregnancy. The gender of the foetus can be determined around this time.
“All Form Fs that showed women with normal female foetuses had abortions should be tracked and investigated,” Thakur said.
“That is how female foeticide can be prevented, not by making a database of information on pregnancies.”