Condemning medically unwarranted hysterectomies in Kalburgi district, Karnataka and demanding urgent action

“I had difficulty passing urine. I went to a private hospital in Kalburgi. The doctor asked me to get a scan done. He looked at the scan and said that ‘your garbhacheela (uterus) has become kharab (damaged). You should undergo operation to remove it immediately’. I thought it will help my problem. So I got the operation done. I paid Rs.20000 to the doctor. But even after the operation my problem continued. So I went to another hospital. Only then I came to know that my urine problem was because of stones in my kidney and not because of the uterus!”                                                                  —-35 year old woman, Kalburgi district

This is a story that was oft repeated in several villages across Kalburgi district in Karnataka when we undertook a fact-finding exercise to understand more about hysterectomies that seemed to be spreading like an epidemic. A typical response to a question in any village about number of women who had undergone hysterectomies was: “In our village it is easier to count women who have uterus!”

Dear All,

Private hospitals in Kalburgi town are targeting women, including very young women from marginalized communities to undergo medically unwarranted hysterectomies (uterus removal surgery). They are instilling fear using grossly unscientific information, driving unsuspecting women into undergoing hysterectomies that are undertaken in complete violation of standard treatment protocol, that have led to serious complications and deaths.

Key highlights from KJC’s fact-finding report:

98% of the total 707 hysterectomies were conducted in private hospitals.

51% of the women were aged less than 35 years at the time of hysterectomy and a 22.5% were below the age of 30 years

In Girish Noola Surgical and Maternity hospital that accounted for the largest number of hysterectomies, as much as 61% of the women were less than 35 years and a further 41% were aged less than 30 years.

Nearly all hysterectomies were conducted based on a single scan which is a gross violation of standard treatment protocol.

Private doctors are guilty of medical misconduct as they have removed uteruses of women whose scans indicated a ‘normal study’. In several instances as in the case cited above, scan reports indicated problems with different organs such as kidney, urinary bladder but the doctors had not treated the problem. Instead they had undertaken hysterectomy even when the uterus was a ‘normal study’.

Such gross violations of medical ethics and protocols have led to needless complications and deaths among several women:

  • On the 17/7/15, a woman of 23 years old from Gulbarga Taluk died on the operation table soon after undergoing a hysterectomy at the hospital.
  • A 25 year old woman from Chinncholli Taluk died as a consequence of post-operative complications just a few days after she had undergone hysterectomy.
  • A 21 year old woman who had a Cancer of pancreas was not told about the cancer. Instead the doctor undertook a hysterectomy, following which she died.

The state government and the district administration have been tardy and slow to act. While both state Department of Health and Family Welfare and Kalburgi district administration have initiated enquiries into the issue, we are not sure to what extent these enquiries will be conducted in a timely, appropriate or non-partisan manner.

In an effort to keep up the pressure on the state government as well as the district administration, we are initiating a petition campaign.

The petition is attached to this email. We urge you to send the petition to the Chief Minister, Health Minister, Medical Education Minister, DC and SP of Kalburgi by email, fax or post. We are copying below their emails, fax numbers and postal addresses.

We also urge you to share this petition widely with like-minded groups and individuals.

Pressure from progressive groups and individuals like you is very critical to push the state government and the district administration into taking timely actions to protect vulnerable women against the profiteering interests of private doctors and ensuring justice is done.

In Solidarity,

Karnataka Janaarogya chaluvali

Contact details:

 Chief Minister

Government of Karnataka

Third Floor, Vidhan Soudha,

Bengaluru 560233

Email: cm@karnataka.gov.in

Phone: 080-22253414, 080-22253424, 080-22253454

Fax:  +91-080-22253660

Home Minister

Government of Karnataka

Room No.316, 316A, III Floor
Vidhana Soudha
Bangalore-560 001
Tel/ Fax: 080-22251798

Email: ps2homeminister@gmail.com

Minister for Health and family Planning

Government of Karnataka

Room No.344/345,
Vikasa Soudha,
Bangalore – 1

Mobile: 9448383919,
Tel/Fax: 080-22383418

Email: healthminister2013@gmail.com

Minister for Medical Education

Room No.301, III Floor, High Court side, Vidhana Soudha, Bangalore

Tel/Fax: 080- 222 53747

Email: psharanprakash@yahoo.in

Deputy Commissioner

DC office

Kalaburgi- 585102

Tel:  08472-278601

Fax: 08472-278602

Email: dcoglb@gmail.com

Superintendent of Police

SP Office

Kalaburgi- 585102

Mob: 9480803501

Tel: 08472- 263602

Fax: 08472-279180

Email: dispolgba@gmail.com or spgba@ksp.gov.in
To:

Subject: Condemning medically unwarranted hysterectomies in Kalburgi district, Karnataka and demanding urgent action

We strongly condemn the medically unwarranted hysterectomies by several private hospitals targeting women, including those very young, from poor, marginalized communities in Kalburgi, in violation of all medical ethics and standard treatment protocols. Such profiteering interests of private doctors have led to serious complications among vulnerable women threatening their very life.

Despite the fact that this issue has been reported widely in the media including the national media, we are shocked at the slow response of both the state government as well as the Kalburgi district administration.

We are deeply disturbed that even though nearly 37 private hospitals in Kalburgi town and several others in neighboring towns of Umarga, Tandur and Jairabad have been engaged in such a criminal activity, the district administration has not paid any attention.

We urge the state government as well as Kalburgi district administration to immediately undertake the following actions to protect vulnerable women’s right to life:

1. Arrest the two doctors Drs. Girish and Smita Noola from Girish Noola Surgical and Maternity Hospital and file criminal charges against them.
2. Cancel the license of Drs. Girish and Smita Noola with immediate effect.
3. Cancel the license of Girish Noola Surgical and Maternity Hospital under section 12 of the KPME Act 2007.
4. Locate patients hastily discharged from Girish Noola Surgical and Maternity Hospital on 12th August 2015, obtain their medical records and ensure their free treatment in district hospital, Kalburgi.
5. Conduct an enquiry into the hysterectomies carried out by the 37 hospitals in Kalburgi town and take criminal action against those violating medical ethics and standard treatment protocols.
6. Provide Rs.25 lakh compensation to each victim of medically unwarranted hysterectomy
7. Conduct a CoD enquiry into all hysterectomies in the state.
8. Undertake an awareness campaign about the important role of the uterus in protecting women against various diseases.
We trust that you will undertake these actions and ensure justice for vulnerable women from marginalized communities.

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3 thoughts on “Condemning medically unwarranted hysterectomies in Kalburgi district, Karnataka and demanding urgent action

Add yours

  1. I cannot understand why poor backward communities are going to private hospitals? They can go to government hospitals can they not? Is someone preventing them from seeking government hospital care which is free for them? Are the private hospitals dragging them? I don’t believe doctors base their treatment If they have tons of money to pay for private care they cannot be from backward communities … ..
    I am sure after these accusations lot of small private hospitals will not treat people from these tribes and they will have more complications that NGOs can feel responsible for

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  2. I thought we lived in a democratic country where people are ‘Innocent until proven guilty’, but off late there seems to be lot of NGOs who have taken upon themselves to be judge and jury in a very public way which is no way different from goondaraj panchayat .
    If the KJC study showed 98% of hysterectomies are done privately then they haven’t studied poor people who were operated in government hospitals. These people had money to pay private consultation, private scan and private surgery bills.
    Secondly, tribal patients donot have proof of date unless one insists on Aadhaar card before treatment as they don’t even remember their DOB or age. Lot of times one looks at children and eyeballs them and write down age.
    Western studies show a lot of follow-up scans especially in countries like Britain as they have national health care and they try to follow-up with repeated investigations and delay definitive care as there is queue.
    In the Indian subcontext, the patients typically seek a more quick fix as they have limited money and want to be able to return to work asap. So doctors do offer them medication so they could be follow as was shown on TV here but one can see patient is having none of that.
    Also the above article feels like a typical case of targeting one doctor/hospital to be made example of with background of extortion.
    This is a witch hunt.

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