Over the last couple of years, researchers have noticed a startling trend in India’s Chhattisgarh state. Many officials began to notice that a high rate of women had hysterectomies in the area, always provided by private clinics. Now the government wants to go after these clinics for abusing a national insurance scheme, which was originally meant to encourage clinics to treat families living below the poverty line.
Instead, officials believe that clinics abused the insurance scheme, which was launched in 2007. According to the BBC, private clinics can receive 30,000 rupees (about $545) for treating a family that lives below the poverty line. Many critics believe that private clinics and nursing homes are guilty of pushing treatments on people in order to receive the monetary benefits from the state.
The most troubling aspect of this story is the high number of women who have received unnecessary hysterectomies over the last two and a half years. Some estimates put the number of women who received this excessive operation over the last 30 months at about 7,000. Over the last five years, officials worry that as many as 50,000 women have had hysterectomies in the state of Chhattisgarh.
News Look began covering this story over a year ago to illustrate the difficulties many women face once they are told they need the hysterectomy. Many women say they arrive at the private clinic asking about an ailment only to be told that they need a hysterectomy or face a high risk of death. As News Look states: “What’s worrying is that 80 percent of the women undergoing surgery are between 20 and 40. These women age faster, with complications caused by hormonal imbalances and osteoporosis.”
Up to 34 private clinics will be investigated and nine practitioners have already faced harsh penalties from government officials. The exact nature of the investigation has not been disclosed, but many government officials believe that state hospitals do not have enough resources, thereby pushing many of these women to seek treatment in the corrupt clinics. One opposition leader in India told the BBC that this system is a “connivance between health department officials and private nursing homes,” thereby robbing people of accessible and reliable health care.
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