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India mass sterilisation: Doctor arrested over botched operations after 15 die and 90 others are hospitalised


Indian women who underwent sterilisation surgery in India. (AP)

Indian women who underwent sterilisation surgery in India. (AP)

Indian women who underwent sterilisation surgery in India. (AP)

A doctor who conducted the botched mass sterilisation of 130 women at government-run camps has been arrested after 15 died and 16 patients continue to fight for their lives in hospital.

Dr RK Gupta carried out tubectomy operations at two of the camps Indian state of Chhattisgarh, which offered free sterilisation surgery as part of a Government programme to curb the country’s population growth.

India’s population is among the fastest growing in the world and the country is expected to overtake China as the most populous by 2050.

The BBC reports Dr Gupta operated on 83 women within a five-hour period at one of the camps - a breach of government protocol which prohibits surgeons from performing more than 30 in a day.

The women were operated on in a room of an unused private hospital in a village called Pandari, according to the Reuters news agency.

Police said the operating theatre was filthy, dusty, hung with cobwebs and bloodied sheets were not changed between patients because of the high turnover.

The women were sent home after, but dozens became unwell hours later and were rushed to hospitals in Bilaspur. More than 90 remain in hospital.

Dr Gupta, who was arrested on Wednesday, denied reports that his equipment was rusty or dirty and said it was the government's duty to control the number of people that turned up at the state-run family-planning "camp".

The BBC said Dr Gupta had one assistant during surgery, but Dr Gupta told Reuters he had two.

He said he wore gloves and a gown during the operations and he took between two and five minutes on each operation, giving his assistants time to clean scalpels.

"They are dipped in spirit after an operation and then reused. If I feel it is not working well I change it. I do about 10 operations with the same knife. Towel clips are also reused after being dipped in spirit," he said.

Dr Gupta said health workers gave the women ciprofloxacin, a commonly prescribed antibiotic, and ibuprofen, a pain killer, after the operations.

He faces charges of causing death by negligence.

The government of Chhattisgarh, one of India's poorest states, banned five batches of drugs and a batch of surgical cotton wool on Wednesday pending further investigations.

The banned medicines include Indian-made brands of ciprofloxacin and ibuprofen and were used in Dr Gupta's sterilisation camp, a government statement said.

Additional reporting by Reuters

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