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8 women dead, many critically ill, after mass sterilisation in India goes wrong

Eight women have died and dozens more are in a critical condition after a state-run sterilisation programme in India went horribly wrong.

The country gives money to women who voluntarily get sterilised as part of its plan to control its billion-plus population.

But more than 60 women were hospitalised after suffering complications from the surgery over the weekend, authorities in the central state of Chhattisgarh said on Tuesday (Nov 11).

Of those women, 24 are seriously ill, the authorities added.

Mass sterilisation camps

Mr Sonmani Borah, the commissioner of Bilaspur district, said: "Reports of a drop in pulse, vomiting and other ailments started pouring in on Monday from the women who underwent surgery.

"Since Monday, eight women have died and 64 are in various hospitals."

He added that the government would investigate the incident.

Angry locals took to the streets of Bilaspur to demand immediate action against the doctors.

State governments in India frequently organise mass sterilisation camps under a national programme whereby women are given 1,400 rupees (S$30) as an incentive to undergo the procedure.

Some local governments also offer other incentives such as cars and electrical goods to couples volunteering for sterilisation.

Coerced

The surgery is voluntary, but rights groups say women are being coerced into being sterilised, often in inadequate medical facilities, to meet the targets of the sterilisation programme.

The Indian Express daily said the operations in Chhattisgarh were carried out by a doctor and his assistant in a period of about five hours.

Chief medical officer of Bilaspur RK Bhange told the newspaper: "There was no negligence. He is a senior doctor. We will probe (the incident)."

The medical superintendent of the hospital where many of the women were admitted said it was difficult to say what could have caused the deaths.

"We will know the reasons only once the post-mortem is completed," he said.

Source: AFP

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