Members of four NGOs that visited the epicentre of last month’s fatal sterilisation drive at Bilaspur in Chhattisgarh have blamed the shocking failure to follow safe-surgery protocols for the death of 16 young women.
They said spurious medicines and post-surgery infections could be prime reasons for the casualties.
A join team from Population Foundation of India, Parivar Seva Sanstha, Family Planning Association of India and CommonHealth went to one of the sites where a free laparoscopic tubectomy camp was held.
“This tragedy was waiting to happen. Ideally, not more than 30 surgeries are permitted in a day but more than 80 surgeries were performed in that camp.
Infrastructure at the hospital was in a mess,” said Poonam Muttreja, the executive director of Population Foundation of India.
The team demanded an independent inquiry into the incident to punish the guilty as well as verify reports that infection-prevention protocols weren’t followed.
“We can’t rule out infection because of the speed and atmosphere in which these surgeries were carried out. Even if a drug had rat poision, the amount found in a single 500mg tablet is not enough to kill a person,” said Dr Alok Banerjee, the technical advisor to Parivar Seva Sanstha.
To avoid reruns of such tragedies, he suggested a vigorous campaign for male sterilisation. “Family planning surgeries for men involve far less chances of infection compared with tubectomies. At present, only 3% sterilisation drives are male-centric.”
The NGOs said such campaigns were fraught with danger because only Rs 14.42 crore have been spent so far on them from a countrywide budget of Rs 396.97 crore for female sterilisation in 2013-14.
The team said 39,23,945 women were sterilised so far this fiscal.
“Coercion and incentives haven’t worked globally. No camps should take place; women must get fixed day facility on a regular basis,” Muttreja said.