ELEVEN women have died and 20 others are believed to be in a critical condition after undergoing botched sterilisation surgery at a government-run camp in the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh.
Last night the government of the state of the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh ordered an inquiry into the surgery at a state-run health camp.
Villagers told BBC Hindi that 83 women underwent tubectomy operations conducted by just one doctor and his assistant within a six-hour period in Bilaspur district on Saturday.
However, the state of Chhattisgarh claimed that three doctors have been suspended for performing the operations. Siddharth Komal Pardeshi, the Bilaspur district magistrate, said the women were sent home after their surgery, but some were later admitted to a hospital when they fell ill. By last night, 10 women had died.
Officials have denied any negligence and accusations that operations were rushed. Pardeshi said autopsies were being carried out on the victims. Chhattisgarh's Health Minister, Amar Agrawal, said a committee had been established to investigate the incident, but added: "At the moment we are concentrating on giving proper medical care to the women."
The Indian government has long been concerned with the growing size of the country's population, which the UN estimates will have overtaken that of China by 2050. India has the world's highest rate of sterilisation among women, with about 37pc undergoing such operations, compared with 29pc in China, according to 2006 statistics reported by the UN. In 2011-12, the government said 4.6 million Indian women had been sterilised. The government offers free sterilisation to women who want to avoid the risk and cost of having another child. There have been allegations women from poorer families are paid to undergo sterilisation.
A report by 'The Independent' newspaper in 2011 found the Ministry of Health had established a scheme that pays those who have the procedure for "loss of earnings". In the same year, officials also began "incentivising" people to come forward during monsoon months when numbers would fall sharply, with the chance to win a series of prizes. Local governments in India often offer incentives such as cars and electrical goods to couples volunteering for sterilisation to try to control the country's billion-plus population.
Authorities in eastern India came under fire last year after a news channel unearthed footage showing scores of women dumped unconscious in a field following a mass sterilisation.
The women had all undergone surgical procedures at a hospital that local officials said was not equipped to accommodate such a large number of patients. The 'Indian Express' daily said the surgeries in Chhattisgarh were carried out by one doctor and his assistant in around five hours. "There was no negligence. He is a senior doctor. We will probe (the incident)," the chief medical officer of Bilaspur RK Bhange said last night. (© Independent News Service)