New Delhi: Measures to curb the declining child sex ratio in the country should be further anchored in robust institutional capacity, Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said on Wednesday.
At the 20th meeting of the Central Supervisory Board (CSB) held under his chairmanship, Azad stressed on the 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.
He also called upon states to act in partnership with the Centre to counter the unethical practice of gender biased sex selection and actively engage with society to protect the girl child.
The Health Ministry has engaged effectively with states to identify challenges in implementation of the PC & PNDT Act, including grassroots advocacy to address attitudes that seek to discriminate against the girl child, Azad said.
It has been seen that 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 Rajasthan.
Against this backdrop, he said, the mushrooming of diagnostic facilities with ultrasound equipment has compounded the challenge of implementation of the law.
The minister said over the last year, a total of 157 cases have been filed, with 15 convictions and licenses of 15 doctors suspended.
Azad said his ministry has put in place comprehensive and innovative information, education and communication strategy to promote positive attitudes for ensuring survival and protection of the girl child.
Capacity building of appropriate authorities has gained momentum in states, while efforts to galvanise the judiciary into pro-active action have also been undertaken, he said.
Under the National Rural Health Mission, Rs 30 crore was given to states for PNDT related activities during 2012-13, the minister said.
Women & Child Development Minister Krishna Tirath said the problem of declining child sex ratio must be seen in the context of low status of women and the girl child as a whole within home and outside.
She mentioned various initiatives undertaken by her ministry for empowerment of women and emphasised that all sectors need to work in a harmonised manner to ensure that girl child takes birth, completes her schooling and functions as a productive member of society.