Eight Indian women have been reported dead and 20 others in critical condition, after undergoing government-sponsored sterilisation surgeries in a bid to slow down the country’s population explosion.
On Saturday, a total of 83 women under the age of 32 had the operations in a hospital outside Bilaspur city in the central state of Chhattisgarh.
The surgeries, which were conducted within six hours, followed an unusual course with over 24 women being rushed back in medical vehicles after becoming ill.
As at Tuesday, eight of the women were reported dead while 20 others were in very critical condition.
S.K. Mandal, the state’s chief medical officer, said the situation was unusual, declining to comment on what went wrong with the surgeries, while expecting autopsies.
Mandal said that each woman had received a payment of 600 rupees (about N1600) to participate in the programme.
Amar Singh, state deputy health director, told the press that the women apparently died from either blood poisoning or haemorrhagic shock, which occurs when a person has lost too much blood.
According to Siddharth Komal Pardeshi, the district magistrate, 20 other women in critical condition are being treated under critical care.
“Their condition is very serious, blood pressure is low,” said Ramesh Murty, a medical doctor at CIMS hospital, one of the facilities where the sick women were being cared for.
“We are now concentrating on treating them, not on what caused this,” he added.
In response to the situation, the state suspended four government doctors, including the surgeon who performed the operations and the district’s chief medical officer, while promising to give compensation payments of about $6,600 (about N1.1m) to each of the victims’ families.
Narendra Modi, the country’s prime minister, said in Myanmar where he was on an official visit, that he had compelled the chief minister to conduct a thorough investigation.
Surgeons in Chhattisgarh met on Tuesday to decide whether to continue the state’s sterilisation schedule, with a target of 180,000 for the year, or halt the process.
India’s population currently stands as 1.3 billion, as the second most populous nation of the world after China.