Thirteen Indian women have died after sterilization surgery at a family planning “camp” in Chhattisgarh, one of India’s poorest states. Over twenty women remain in intensive care, and the death toll is expected to rise. Tainted or substandard drugs are suspected in the deaths and the owners of the drug factories have been summoned for questioning, their facilities sealed. The women were administered ciprofloxacin and ibuprofen as an antibiotic and painkiller respectively. Chhattisgarh’s government has banned use of the medicines used, including Indian made brands of the drugs. 83 women were sterilized in less than three hours by Doctor RK Gupta. Gupta has been arrested despite his denials of wrongdoing and may face life imprisonment. Survivors and health workers recount the grimy condition of the facility, where women were even left to recover on the floor. The women were not tested before surgery and received no follow up care after an immediate discharge. India is the world’s top sterilizer for women, with its population control efforts considered second only to China in its draconian nature. State government officials are pressed to meet sterilization program quotas and poor uneducated women are often pressured to accept money return. Often they are offered money without full disclosure of the operation’s risks. Women who survived the operation in Chhattisgarh were promised about $10, but several have received little or nothing at all. India’s public health system is rife with corruption and lack of funding. Pressure to meet quotas seems to encourage doctors and officials to cut corners. Human Rights Watch states that “access to information, informed consent, and quality of services are often sacrificed by this target driven approach” (Aljazeera).
Tags: India, Parker, sterilization, health, contaminated, medicines