The Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare, chaired the 29th meeting of the Central Supervisory Board (CSB) reaffirming India’s commitment to combating gender discrimination against girls and women. Thus meeting was held on 20th October, 2023 and a press release was issued on that same date.
The central focus of the meeting was the concerning decline in the Child Sex Ratio (CSR) and Sex Ratio at Birth (SRB) in the country, highlighting the ongoing battle against sex-based discrimination and its consequences, including sex selection and pre-birth elimination.
During the meeting, Dr. Mandaviya expressed optimism regarding India’s journey toward gender equality. He cited the latest Sample Registration Survey (SRS) report of 2020, revealing significant progress in SRB. According to the report, the SRB improved from 904 in 2017-19 to 907 in 2018-20, marking a commendable three-point increase. Importantly, 12 out of 22 surveyed states demonstrated improvement, indicating the combined efforts of states in implementing the Pre-conception and Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Regulation and Prevention of Misuse) Act, 1994 (PC&PNDT Act) and the Beti Bachao Beti Padhao scheme.
The Union Health Minister also highlighted the reduction in the Gender Gap, with a two-point decrease in 2020 compared to a five-point gap in 2015. He commended ten states for effectively reversing the gender gap, positively impacting female survival rates.
The Minister emphasized the challenges posed by modern technologies such as IVF procedures, the Non-Invasive Prenatal Test (NIPT), and compact diagnostic equipment. While these technologies have positive medical applications, they can be misused for gender-based sex selection, exacerbating gender imbalances.
Under the PC&PNDT Act, the central government is responsible for combating the misuse of medical technologies for sex determination and selection. The CSB members gathered to reaffirm their commitment to enforcing the Act and creating an enabling environment for the girl child, with an emphasis on ensuring that the Act is not used to harass innocent doctors.
He praised states like Haryana, Rajasthan, and Tamil Nadu for their proactive measures, including sting operations and informer schemes, to combat gender-biased sex selection. He called on other states and union territories to follow suit and contribute significantly to this critical demographic issue.
The meeting concluded with an appeal for collective action to ensure the survival and well-being of the girl child in the nation. The medical community was urged to play a vital role in addressing the declining Child Sex Ratio and Sex Ratio at Birth by identifying those within their profession who engage in unethical practices. The CSB meeting witnessed a unanimous commitment to addressing gender-based discrimination and promoting gender equality.