With the state brainstorming on measures to save the girl child and improve sex ratio, a state-level committee will meet on Friday, to look into the feasibility of implementing the Silent Observer, a device that tracks and records sonography tests, in hospitals across the state.
Several doctors who attended a demonstration of an upgraded version of the device, (now known as Active Tracker) at St George Hospital, on September 8, termed it a “good system” “We wanted to know how it worked. We found it to be a good system but cannot comment on whether we want to implement it throughout the state,” said Dr Suresh Gupta, additional director family welfare, Directorate of Health Services.
The device is a box that can be attached to a sonography machine to record the number of sonography tests carried out, and thus curb illegal sex determination tests in unborn children.
It was installed in more than 250 clinics in Kolhapur district in 2009. A group of radiologists had challenged the use of the device in the Bombay high court, which upheld the Kolhapur district administration’s move in August.
Kolhapur district officials claim that the device has acted as a deterrent against illegal sex selection practice and has helped improve the district’s child sex ration — from 839 girls per 1000 live births in 2001 to 876 in 2011.
Radiologists’ opposition to the device hinged on the issues of possible tampering, breach of privacy and high cost. The demonstration of the upgraded Active Tracker at St George hospital addressed these issues.
“We showed doctors the Active Tracker, with added features, sealing process, GPRS facility, and functioning of the device,” said Girish Lad, chairman and managing director of Magnum Opus IT Consulting Pvt. Ltd., which developed the Silent Observer and the upgraded Active Tracker. Lad said they had managed to reduce the manufacturing and running costs of the upgraded device from Rs 40,000 to Rs 20,000.
Dr Asha Advani, special officer, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation family welfare department, who attended the demonstration, said that the device could help check the manipulation of sonography records. “The possibility of manipulation (of records) is a lot less with this device. If manipulation is done, it can be caught.
With inputs from Menaka Rao.