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Chhattisgarh: 8 women die after sterilisation surgery, 4 doctors suspended

Bilaspur: Eight young women died and 52 others were hospitalised after botched sterilisation procedure at a state-run camp in Chhattisgarh's Bilaspur district, following which the government has suspended four health officials and ordered a probe.

60 women were admitted to different hospitals after they developed post-operative complications at a sterilisation camp organised by the government at a private hospital in Pendari village on the outskirts of Bilaspur town on Saturday, district Collector Siddharth Komal Pardeshi said today.

Eight of them, all below 32 years of age, died from complications, Pardeshi told PTI.

Under attack from opposition Congress which demanded his resignation, Chief Minister Raman Singh announced a high-level probe and suspended four officials, including the Chief Medical and Health Officer of Bilaspur.

He ordered registration of FIR against the surgeon under whose supervision the sterilisation camp was organised at Nemichand Jain Cancer and Research Centre where 83 women had undergone surgical procedures for sterilisation.

The state government initially announced a compensation of Rs 2 lakh to the kin of each of the victims but the Chief Minister raised it to Rs 4 lakh. Rs 50,000 would be given to those undergoing treatment the cost of which will be borne by the government.

Chief Medical and Health Officer of Bilaspur R K Bhange, laparoscopic surgeon Dr R K Gupta, State Programme Convener, family planning, Dr K C Urao and Block Medical Officer, Takhatpur, Dr Pramod Tiwari have been suspended in connection with the incident.

The Chief Minister said prima facie the tragedy had occurred due to negligence and ordered registration of an FIR against Gupta under whose supervision the camp was held and surgeries performed.

"It’s a very unfortunate incident. Prime facie it appears that the incident occurred due to negligence (by doctors). A detailed enquiry will be conducted keeping in view all angles including the quality of the medicines, standard of the surgery, post operative measures and others," he said.

A three-member committee has been constituted to investigate the incident, he said.

Deputy Director, Health Services, Amar Singh said preliminary examination suggested hypovolemic shock, an emergency condition in which severe blood and fluid loss make the heart unable to pump enough blood to the body, or septic infection as possible causes for the deaths.

However, the exact reason would be known only after autopsies have been performed.

The women, who had been operated upon, had been discharged after providing medicines the same night but within 24 hours of the surgery most of them began vomiting and complained of abdominal pain following which 60 were rushed to
different hospitals.

During treatment, two of them -- Janaki Bai (26) and Dipti Yadav (27) -- who were admitted to Bilaspur district hospital passed away yesterday, the Collector said. Five others-- Rekha Nirmalkar, Nembai Suryawanshi, Ranjita, Phool Bai and Chandra Bai-- all aged between 22-32 years and admitted to Apollo hospital, died last night after their condition worsened, he said.

The identity of one of the victims is still not known. As many as 62 people were left blind in one eye after they underwent surgeries at cataract camps held between 2011-13 in the state.

As per government statistics, a total of 44 people lost vision in an eye after they underwent cataract operation in the camp held at community health centres of Balod on September 29 in 2011.

The main opposition Congress here demanded resignation of the Chief Minister Health and Family Welfare Minister.

"No lesson has been learnt from the past mistakes. It reflects the criminal mindset of the state government. Even after botched cataract surgeries cases in Balod, Bagbahra and Raigarh, uterus removal incident and now this tragedy during the tenure of Health Minister Amar Agrawal, he has yet not been sacked," party's state chief Bhupesh Baghel, told PTI.

"The buck must stop at the top and the Chief Minister and the Health Minister must quit. They must go. Then only such incidents of irresponsible behaviour would be stopped," senior Congress leader Ajit Jogi said.

CPI (M) leader Brinda Karat said "it is an indication of the extreme callousness of the authorities of that state. "After Emergency we had thought that target based family planning programmes were a thing of the past but the state has continued to depend on targets. This is direct result of target orientation because regardless of the consequences to the woman, they just want to fulfill the targets."

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