Sunday, May 20, 2012

Of Ultrasounds And Babies...

In the last year and a half, I've come to watch more television series and sitcoms than I have in my whole past life. Most of them, make me laugh and are pure fiction. Some have a relation to the daily life of ours. This blogpost is inspired from one such medical drama, Grey's Anatomy.

For those who are unaware of the series, it exists inside a hospital. The daily in-and-outs of interns, residents, doctors, nurses and of course, patients. It's a typical drama that gets you hooked to it making it difficult for you to not watch it. And, trust me, it's pretty good too.

Coming to the point. There's this doctor in the show who is a neonatal surgeon/obstetrician gynaecologist. In plain English, she's a surgeon who operates on children, when they're newborns, for defects, and/or mothers who have complications during the birth.

In various episodes, they've shown cases of patients whose children have various complications during births and the urgency with which those newborn babies need to be operated on, so as to make sure the child can live a healthy life. The way those surgeries are detected? Pre-natal ultrasonic scans. Period.

There have been a slew of laws that've been brought into action to help reduce the difference in sex ratio, of the country. The debut episode of Satyamev Jayate (a new Indian TV talk show raising awareness towards the social problems of India) too, focused on the same problem. But, is the problem of declining sex ratio because of the use of ultrasound machines, solely? And how fair are we to decide that?

I'm considering a 10 years later scenario here. I'm a married guy or happily living-in with my girlfriend. We decide to have a baby. Research has shown that 13 weeks into the pregnancy, an ultrasound scan, in 80% of the cases, can correctly tell if the baby is a boy or a girl. Why shouldn't I and my partner know? Why can't we begin making the preparations for his/her room, for the silliest reason to know the sex of my baby?

Because many Indians go for a abortion or a forced miscarriage, when they know that the baby in the mother's womb, is a girl, doesn't mean that all of them do!! Why should I have to face the uncertainty for another 6 months, while my counterparts in most other countries know the gender of their child just into the 2nd trimester? That's like saying we should shun Muslims because most terrorists are Muslims.

And to curtail the same rate of abortions, the use and sale of portable ultrasound machines, has been restricted.

That brings me back to the things I've seen and observed in Grey's Anatomy. The portable ultrasonic machines are more prevalent in the rural areas. If there are deformities in the child, while it's developing in the foetus, and if they aren't observed at the right time, it's fatal for both the mother and the child. (It doesn't take rocket science to figure that part out.) And if they're situated in some village 300kms from the nearest equipped hospital, how fair is it to lose the child and/or the mother, just because we don't allow the use of ultrasonics for determining the health of a child?

The reason we live in an India with such an inclined sex ratio, is not the use of ultrasound machines. In fact, the use of these, prevents those fatal losses. There can be and is just one reason, ineducation.

We suffer from the worst epidemic in the world, ineducation. And when coupled with the orthodox nature of the generations that raise us, and our supposed obligations to abide by everything they say and expect us to do, we tend to turn into our own worst nightmares.

The India we live in today, is a transition. The mix of the old-aged beliefs, and the new world, is tough. To educate people, to let them know of the possibilities they have, to explain them that not obeying their parents/guardians (who have such views of a girl baby) is not just pathetic but also unrealistic, and to dare to go past them, is what we need to learn.

To do what you feel is right, without feeling obliged to, compelled by, or to supposedly listen to, someone else's wishes, and having a strong distinction of right and wrong, is the education that we need to provide India with. That's what we really need to curb this evil.

Some food for thought, aye?

Until next post...

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