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Prez cautions against misuse of pre-natal gender tests

New Delhi: Cautioning against the misuse of diagnostic tests for the purpose of pre-natal gender determination, President Pratibha Patil on Friday said it was important for the entire medical fraternity to prevent female foeticide.

"We have laws and legal provisions that specially prohibit medical practitioners from disclosing the gender of the foetus. It is not only illegal, but it is socially immoral and detrimental to the society," Patil said inaugurating the 64th National Conference of the Indian Radiologist and Imaging Association.

Diagnostic tests conducted for pre-natal detection of abnormalities of a baby should be prevented from being misused for the purpose of pre-natal gender determination, which can lead to female foeticide, she said.

Patil said it is very important that all medical facilities, doctors and radiologists adhere to this so as to prevent incidents of female foeticide, a phenomenon that is a disgrace to society and is a social evil.

"It has to be eradicated. A skewed population composition, due to a bias against the girl child, can have many adverse social consequences. We have a social responsibility to bring about an end to prejudices and discrimination against the girl child," the President said.

"We must encourage all such steps that will contribute to the welfare of the girl child – proper nutrition, education, opportunity to work and to be financially independent. A girl child is an asset to the nation," she said.

Patil said that the Government has launched various health programmes, including the National Rural Health Mission.

"We are working towards developing a strong health infrastructure throughout the country. The private sector and voluntary organisations will have to work together in partnership.

"I call upon all stakeholders to look at ways of delivering health care more efficiently, effectively, equitably and in a cost effective manner," she said.

Noting that medical research is an essential component of an effective health care system, she said that the medical fraternity must constantly be on the vigil to face new challenges and keep pace with advances taking place in medical science.

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