Minister stops NGO move to scan pregnant women in Endo-hit areas

Investigating officers will pay visits to all five clinics today

Minister stops NGO move to scan pregnant women in Endo-hit areas

The unilateral decision by two private organisations to set up free ultrasound sonogram scanning centres to scan the pregnant women in Endosulfan affected four taluks in Dakshina Kannada district, will face government wrath before it commences.

Having considered the issue seriously, the State health ministry has directed the district health officer to take steps to prevent the selected five clinics/scanning centres from performing scanning on pregnant women from Endosulfan affected areas.

Udupi based Human Rights Protection Foundation and Rotary Club, Puttur, had jointly made an announcement two days ago of conducting free scanning for pregnant women in five centres in Belthangady, Puttur, Sullia and Bantwal taluks, starting from July 1.

According to Endosulfan Victims Welfare Foundation President Dr Ravindranath Shanbhog, who has taken the initiative, the scanning would help to diagnose and spot fetal deformities following which mothers can opt for terminating the foetus, to avoid the babies born with disabilities.

“Despite repeated requests to the State and the Central governments to conduct gene test of the youth and scanning of pregnant women in Endosulfan affected areas, the efforts have gone futile. Even the Public Litigation vases filed before the Supreme Court and the High Court are moving in a snails pace. Hence, Endosulfan Victims Welfare Foundation was formed to address the issue. Our idea is to scan the pregnant women and give our opinion based on which they can take a decision either to carry the baby or abort it,” he said.

Notices to be served

Speaking to Deccan Herald, District Health Officer Dr O R Srirangappa said that on receiving an order from the health minister to prevent the scanning on Sunday, the DHO has formed a team of investigating officers who will pay visits to all the five clinics on Monday and examine them.

“No clinics can take up an extreme step of conducting free mass ultrasound scanning of pregnant women and give opinion on terminating babies, without obtaining the government permission.”

“The team comprising of Nodal Officer Dr Ramakrishna Rao, Reproductive Child Health Officer Dr Rukmini and Taluk Health Officers will visit the clinics and issue them circulars, directing not to make a move till the next government order is issued,” he said.

Requires deliberations

Terming the scanning programme as unscientific, Assistant Nodal Officer of Endosulfan Rehabilitation Programme of Kerala, Dr Mohammad Asheel, said the decision on scanning and terminating the foetus would require a lot of deliberations and considerations as it involves ethical factor too.

“Sonogram scanning will only detect the physical anomalies like down’s syndrome and skeletal defects, while bio-chemical and reproduction defects, neural delay and endocrine disorders can not be identified.  Therefore, scanning has less utility as several babies are born with mental defects too. Scanning and terminating babies is not a practical solution as the risk benefit is very less” he noted.

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