Here’s Bloomberg’s summary of what happened.
An Indian surgeon used infected instruments to sterilize 83 women in about six hours, according to a local medical official, leaving 10 [now eleven or more] of them dead and another 69 hospitalized in the central state of Chhattisgarh.
The doctor breached guidelines that limit surgeons from performing more than 30 sterilizations a day, said the official, who asked not to be named because details of the investigation are private. He also failed to disinfect the instruments before using them again, the official said.
“It’s a case of negligence,” Raman Singh, the state’s chief minister, told reporters at a news conference today, adding that the doctor, R.K. Gupta, had been suspended and a criminal investigation is under way.
It is indeed a scandal that a doctor would treat his patients with such carelessness and endanger their lives in such a basic way.
One might ask, however, what kind of circumstances would convince a doctor that he could get away with such behavior—or what kind of service would attract such a man. In this case we have a story that is similar to the Kermit Gosnell scandal. Some ways of “doing medicine” attract doctors lacking in character and/or encourage and permit a bad attitude toward patients along with a negligent practice.
According to Bloomberg, the very next words from Raman Singh, the state’s chief minister, were these: “It is unfortunate that such an incident occurred in a scheme of national importance.”
Oh? What scheme was that?
Women often suffer most from efforts to control population growth, such as one-day sterilization drives, in the nation of 1.2 billion people. India has the world’s third-highest female sterilization rate after the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico among more than 180 countries tracked by the United Nations.
Yes, tracked and almost certainly funded by the U.N. or some NGO financed by a eugenicist billionaire (you know who you are).
Sterilizations are voluntary and couples choose between a tubectomy or vasectomy, Harsh Vardhan, who was India’s health minister at the time, told parliament on July 18. From April 2010 to March 2013, the government paid about 510 million rupees ($8 million) for 15,264 deaths or failed surgeries, he said.
Women are offered as little as 600 rupees ($10) in compensation for participating in the procedure, which usually takes about 15 minutes and is done under local anesthesia, according to Alok Banerjee of Advocating Reproductive Choices, a coalition of health groups.
“If they follow the guidelines, then sterilization is a very safe method of contraception and population control,” Banerjee said.
Sure, but the government has limited resources and different priorities. While safe sterilization might be nice, what matters to the powers that be is the sterilization. They can’t be bothered to save lives. Better to pay out a token compensation for the dead bodies. You can’t make an omelet without sending a few women into septic shock.
Sterilization is “voluntary” but they bribe poor women for a mere ten dollars to undergo an irreversible procedure that forever bars them from having any children in the future. If it only takes ten dollars, then these women must be quite desperate. I’m not too comforted by assurances that the program is “voluntary.”
And the Bloomberg writer even agrees with me!
While cash incentives are offered to couples who stay childless until prescribed ages or opt for contraceptives, the use of numerical targets has contributed to a “coercive environment for several decades,” Human Rights Watch said in a 2012 report. Although the federal government has announced a “target-free” approach to family planning, district health workers are threatened with salary cuts or dismissals if local targets aren’t met, according to the report.
“This is an exceptional case which unfortunately happens once every four or five years,” said Abhijeet Phatak, medical program specialist with International Planned Parenthood in New Delhi. “The fault lies with the person who did not disinfect the equipment on a day when 80 or 90 women are being sterilized. But also the strategy of having one-day camps for sterilization is to blame and should be reconsidered.”
An exceptional case that happens on a regular basis? I’m glad it doesn’t happen more often but the problem is embedded in the system.