The Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered search engines to “delete” advertisements for pre-natal sex determination, prohibited by the Pre Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Determination Act.
The court directed the Centre to set up a nodal agency to keep an eye out for such content and bring it to the notice of search engines, who will need to pull it down within 36 hours.
The nodal agency will also need to issue advertisements on TV, radio and newspapers informing the public alert them if they come across “anything which identifies a girl or a boy [at pre-natal stage].”
The Pre Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Determination Act was implemented in 1994, to reduce female foeticide and even out the sex ratio in the country.
In the 2011 Census, the child sex ratio of children between the ages of 0-6 years was 919 females per 1,000 males, worse than the 2001 figure of 927 females per 1,000 males.
Contending that the Pre Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Determination Act has not been properly implemented and that sex determination tests continued with impunity in the country, Dr Sabu Matthew George filed a public interest litigation before the Supreme Court in 2008, which a division bench a bench of Dipak Misra and Amitava Roy has taken up for hearing.
The case will be heard next on February 2017.
The Supreme Court had held the search engines liable to check for pre-natal sex determination advertisements and asked them to develop in-house methods to prohibit such content. Search engines had developed a technique of automatically blocking advertisements on sex determination based on 43 key words, solicitor-general Ranjit Kumar submitted.
India has the maximum number of preterm babies
India has the highest number of premature births as well as deaths in the world, UNICEF has said.
A total of 35 lakh children are born prematurely in India and 7,00,000 newborns die in the country each year – a mortality rate of 29 deaths per 1,000 births, according to a UNICEF report released at a symposium in Hyderabad on November 17, World Prematurity Day.
The two leading causes for the complications that led to these deaths were premature birth and pnemonia, according to researchers from the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the World Health Organisation.
Among Indian states, Telangana had the most number of pre-maturity related deaths in the country from January to October, UNICEF data revealed. More than 1,400 pre-term babies were born during this period, about 54% of them because of respiratory distress syndrome, which makes it difficult for a child to breathe and is usually caused in infants whose lungs are not fully developed yet. Nationwide, respiratory distress syndrome accounts for an average 35% of total infant deaths.
Dr Sanjeev Upadhyaya, a health specialist at UNICEF told the Times of India
that while deaths due to sepsis or infection are higher in North India, in pre-term related complications are the leading cause of infant deaths in the South.
199 million Indians have high blood pressure
In India, 199 million people suffer from high blood pressure, a study published in the Lancet said. High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart attacks or strokes.
The study analysed changes in the blood pressure of nearly 20 million people in every country in the world between 1975 to 2015.
A press release issued by the Lancet said that in the past 40 years, there has been an increase in the number of people living with high blood pressure worldwide because of the aging global population. In all, from 594 million people in 1975, the count had risen to over 1.1 billion in 2015.
In this period, the highest average blood pressure levels had shifted from high income countries to low income countries, the study found. High-income countries such as Australia, Canada and Germany had “impressive reductions” in the prevalence of adults with high blood pressure while low- and middle-income countries. in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa recorded the largest rise in the prevalence high blood pressure in adults.
In most parts of the world, men had higher blood pressure than women in 2015, the study found out.
Zika no longer an emergency, but crisis not over says WHO
The World Health Organisation on November 18 declared that the mosquito-borne Zika virus will no longer be treated as an international public health emergency. Lifting the nine-month emergency, the WHO said it was more important to establish a long term mechanism to tackle the disease.
The international health body, however, emphasised that Zika continues to remain a threat.
Zika fever is caused by the eponymous virus transmitted by the aedes mosquito. The virus, scientists believe, is the cause for microcephaly, where babies are born with abnormally small brains. Birth defects have been reported in about 30 countries so far.
The New York Times reported that several public health experts were disappointed with WHO’s declaration.