“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!”
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.
Karnataka Janaarogya chaluvali
Government of Karnataka
Third Floor, Vidhan Soudha,
Phone: 080-22253414, 080-22253424, 080-22253454
Government of Karnataka
Room No.316, 316A, III Floor
Tel/ Fax: 080-22251798
Minister for Health and family Planning
Government of Karnataka
Bangalore – 1
Minister for Medical Education
Room No.301, III Floor, High Court side, Vidhana Soudha, Bangalore
Tel/Fax: 080- 222 53747
Superintendent of Police
Tel: 08472- 263602
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.