Urgent need to check skewed sex ratio: Azad

Last Updated: Wed, Jan 16, 2013 15:00 hrs

New Delhi, Jan 16 (IANS) There was an urgent need to overcome the male-biased sex-ratio in the country through a combination of strategies, including new laws and advocacy, Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said Wednesday.

"There is an urgent need to overcome male-biased birth ratios through a combination of strategies, including attention to gender equality in laws and policies, advocacy, media campaigns and economic growth," Azad said at the 20th meeting of the central supervisory board (CSB) of the PNDT.

The board was set up by both, the health and women and child development ministry to implement the PNDT (Pre-natal Diagnostic Technique) Act strictly in the country.

According to the 2011 census, the child sex-ratio in India has dipped to 917 per 1,000 from 927 per 1,000 in 2001.

The minister said that the health ministry is taking many initiatives to address the skewed sex ratio in the country.

He said Rs.30 crore has been given to the states for PNDT related activities under the National Rural Health Mission.

He said efforts are on to galvanise the judiciary into pro-active action against offenders.

"Blood tests that disclose the sex of a foetus are widely available on the internet and ultrasound procedures are available on mobile phones now. For this reason, it becomes important for members and stakeholders to act in partnership," Azad said.

Across all states covered under the Annual Health Survey-2011, sex-ratio at birth in urban areas is significantly lower than the rural areas, except in Rajasthan, he said.

The mushrooming of diagnostic facilities with ultrasound has compounded the challenge of implementation of the law.

Azad said over the last year, a total of 157 cases have been filed, 15 convictions secured and licenses of 15 doctors have been suspended.

Speaking at the event, Women and Child Development Minister Krishna Tirath said the problem of declining child sex ratio must be seen in the context of the low status of women and the girl child as a whole within home and outside.

More from Sify: