Corruption over spectrum, land, arms or sports is passé. The latest space to extract money from is the female reproductive system. After Chhattisgarh, Bihar has become the newest state where doctors and nursing homes have allegedly made crores from the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana through illegal hysterectomy — an operation to remove the uterus.
Numerous cases of forced surgeries came to light in Samastipur district following a probe by district magistrate Kundan Kumar. The victims were sometimes girls as young as 12 to 14-year-olds.
There were a number of fake cases too, and in some of them, the operation was shown to have been conducted on men.
“It is not only a case of fraud but a gross violation of medical ethics,” said Kumar, who held a health camp as part of the probe. At the camp, ultrasound tests were conducted on over 3,000 women.
The report, which was finalised on Wednesday, indicts 16 nursing homes in Samastipur, all of which have been issued a showcause notice. The matter also found resonance in the state assembly, where the opposition put the Nitish Kumar government on the mat.
The probe was held when the insurance company, ICICI Lombard, raised an alarm after receiving a bill of a whopping Rs. 17 crore from the 16 nursing homes. A claim of Rs. 10,000 can be made for a single hysterectomy.
“At the camp, we received many complaints that the surgeries were forced,” Kumar said. “Private nursing homes even scared women with prognosis of grave medical complications, like cancer, if the uteruses were not removed.”
State labour minister Janardan Singh Sigriwal — whose department is the nodal agency for the scheme — insisted that there has been no irregularity. It was decided that the call attention committee of the assembly will probe the matter.