IRIA criticised Gazette Notification on PNDT Act
Reacting strongly to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare’s Gazette Notification – restricting radiologists/sonologists from visiting no more than two clinics within a district to perform ultrasound and making it mandatory to specify their consulting hours at each clinic; Padma Shri Dr Harsh Mahajan, National President, Indian Radiological and Imaging Association (IRIA) termed the order “unconstitutional, undemocratic and ill-thought”, asserting it would exacerbate the shortage of radiologists, ultimately hurting patient welfare and leading to higher prices for ultrasound tests of all parts of the body, although the directive is actually meant to curb pregnancy ultrasound.
Elaborating on the issue, Mahajan said, “There’s no doubt that India’s female sex ratio has been falling progressively over decades. But to conclude that restricting sonologists from visiting more than two centres within a district will solve this problem is fallacious because the real problem lies elsewhere.”
The norm on specific consulting hours goes against the Medical Council of India Act as well as contradicts a Supreme Court ruling, which states that any doctor has to provide help to a patient in an emergency situation.
Cautioned Mahajan, “These unwanted outcomes could ultimately create a crisis scenario due to lack of quick diagnosis, even increasing death rates in emergency situations. All this only because the Government has drawn unsubstantiated conclusions that restricting radiologists from practising in more than two centres would reduce female foeticide. This is simply not true. The authorities are overlooking the fact that pregnancy sonography constitutes barely 5% of all ultrasounds conducted for various parts of the body to diagnose numerous diseases.”
Furthermore, registration rates for ultrasound centres have been arbitrarily hiked from Rs 3,000 to Rs 25,000 and from Rs 4,000 to Rs 35,000. Such an exorbitant increase will lead to an increase in ultrasound charges since clinics will be forced to recover these costs from patients. The new norm also requires 30 days advance notice on purchase of a new ultrasound machine or on joining of an ultra-sonologist at the clinic.
“Ill-thought, unfair laws that target law-abiding radiologists will not stop this practice but instead hurt the wellbeing of poor patients. The IRIA is willing to meet the Government and discuss ways to identify and punish the real culprits behind female foeticide. In the interim, the IRIA appeals to the Government to withdraw this illogical law,” Mahajan said.