Lifestyle & Belief

Thousands of Indian women coerced into unneeded hysterectomies


Women dress their saris after having taken their morning bath in the Ganges river during the Sonepur Mela on November 15, 2011 in Sonepur near Patna, India. The cattle fair, held in the Indian state of Bihar, has its origins during ancient times, when people traded elephants and horses across the river Ganges.


Daniel Berehulak

The Central Indian state of Chhattisgarh is investigating allegations that hundreds of women had unneeded hysterectomies so doctors might collect on insurance claims, reported the BBC today. 

According to the Hindustan Times, unscrupulous doctors carried out the surgeries to collect under India's national health scheme, Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana.

The BBC reports around 2,000 women have been injured in the scheme. Legal action has been taken against nine medical practitioners, the BBC added, while 34 private nursing homes are being investigated. 

The women, according to the BBC, arrived at the hospital with minor medical problems and then were frightened into having their uteruses removed - some were told they would get cancer unless they went through with the surgery. 

“It has become a sensitive and serious problem," Chhattisgarh state minister Amar Agrawal told the Hindustan Times. "We are investigating whether these surgeries were being done just for the money or were genuinely needed. The government will take stern action against those found guilty."

The well-meaning national insurance policy, founded in 2007, compensates doctors for performing surgeries on poor Indians, the BBC reported. Hospitals and clinics may claim 30,000 rupees (about $545) a family if they are required to treat those living below the poverty line.

According to the Times of India, RSBY has been relatively successful, although the program recently encountered difficulties in rolling out new health insurance smart cards, reported IExpressIndia last month. 

According to the BBC, however, the scheme has been widely criticized as it is easily abused by immoral health care providers.