| Health minister Ashwini Kumar Choubey addresses the news meet at the Secretariat in Patna on Monday. Picture by Nagendra Kumar Singh |
Patna, May 28: The state health department has embarked on punishment and personality pills to intensify its crusade against female foeticide.
The punishment pill has been prescribed for Patna civil surgeon Dr Lakhendra Prasad. His fault: allowing two ultrasound clinics in the city to reopen after being sealed by the Centre’s National Inspection and Monitoring Committee (NIMC) team in February. They allegedly violated several norms of Pre-conception & Pre-natal Diagnostic Tests (PC-PNDT) Act, 1994.
Now, the personality part. The department is trying to rope in Aamir Khan as its brand ambassador for the campaign against female foeticide. Health minister Ashwini Kumar Choubey said efforts were on to bring in the actor.
“We have written a letter to Aamir and are trying to persuade him to join hands with us for the cause,” the minister said, adding that the Centre should consider the actor for some civilian award for his social reformer role in the serial Satyamev Jayate.
Choubey said he would lead a march-past on May 30 and 31 in Bhagalpur as part of the government’s Bitiya Bachao Andolan.
The humanitarian voice of the minister turned tough while talking about Prasad. He said Bihar State Health Society (BSHS) executive director Sanjay Kumar had initiated action against Prasad and a letter was sent to him.
Choubey said a committee would be constituted under Kumar to examine under what circumstances were the clinics reopened and what action could be taken against them.
“I will ask the committee to submit its report within the next seven days and appropriate action would be taken based on that. If the need arises, a CID enquiry can be ordered,” the minister said.
About four months ago, the NIMC team had sealed the ultrasound centres at Ford Hospital and Maurya X-ray and Ultrasound Pvt. Ltd for violating several norms of the PC-PNDT Act, 1994. But Prasad later issued permission to the clinics to function again. The matter was raised in the Assembly during the budget session this year.
Following the furore in the House, BSHS issued a notice to Prasad asking why the clinics found prima facie guilty of carrying out sex-detection test on pregnant women had started functioning again and why FIRs were not lodged against them.
The official’s clarification failed to satisfy the government agency and fresh directions were issued to immediately seal the clinics. Prasad claimed in his written reply to the society that despite repeated orders, the centres were operating.
Besides its crusade against the female foeticide, the state health department is planning to take a few initiatives for cancer patients. The state is proposing to depute a liaison officer in Mumbai to help distressed patients and their relatives in getting treatment at hospitals like Tata Memorial Hospital and find them affordable accommodation during the treatment.
Choubey claimed that the regional cancer centre at Indira Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences and the cancer unit at Patna Medical College and Hospital would be strengthened to provide better services to the needy.