Health officials have blown the lid off a nexus involving doctors and quacks in Palamu and Garhwa districts that profited from sending patients to operation table for simple illnesses.
Health officials probing the case said victims were scared by quacks or agents of doctors into undergoing hysterectomy—surgical removal of uterus—for reasons as simple as ache in spine, stomach and abdomen, and easily curable vaginal discharge, and billed them hefty fees.
Eight cases, four this week, of unwanted hysterectomy were reported from Palamu, while 12 victims were found in Garhwa since January.
The Palamu administration has sealed Ma Bindesvani Nursing Home at Haidernagar after four women informed the district administration of their surgeries at the private health institution.
Civil surgeon of Palamu Vijay Kumar said, "These women were told the pain in their back and abdomen were due to uterus disorders. They were told it was life-threatening and to get it operated." It came to light when the victims came to district hospital with complications from botched operation.
Sunita Devi, 31, who was cheated of her uterus, told Palamu police: "I had white vaginal discharge. I was told it would kill me. They took my uterus. Later I found that just medicines and hygiene would have cured the condition."
In Jharkhand, the doctor-patient ratio is as low as 1:12,000, and exodus of doctors is common. Since 2013 more than 400 government doctors have left the services sighting ‘poor security in extremist-affected areas, leaving the room wide open for quacks. After Jharkhand was formed in 2000, the government has been able to fill just 30% of the sanctioned doctor posts.
Sub-Divisional Officer of Hussainabad Udaykant Pathak said: "This is just the tip of the iceberg. There could be many more victims."
In 2013, four private clinics in Garhwa were shut after 150 women were found to be victims of rogue hysterectomy during a government health camp.
Health activist Saurav Suman who exposed the 2013 racket said each operation costs Rs 8,000 to Rs 15,000. “It’s quick money for doctors and their agents," he said.
In Garhwa, two unnamed clinics allegedly run by quacks have removed uteruses of 12 women.
"These clinics in the outskirts of Garhwa, we believe, are run by quack-doctor racket. We have no leads to which nursing homes are involved," said Garhwa Civil Surgeon RNS Diwakar.