BENGALURU: More than a year-and-a-half after a group of public health activists investigated ‘unnecessary’ hysterectomies in Kalaburagi district, no FIR has been filed and police haven’t taken Suo Motu cognisance of the matter.
The result is that the doctors who had allegedly performed the unwarranted surgeries are still practising. They have neither lost their licence nor have they been put behind bars. Two victims who had allegedly undergone such hysterectomies have approached the Kalaburagi bench of Karnataka High Court.
Hearing the petition, the bench of Justice A N Venugopala Gowda issued a notice to the Health Department on January 5.
The issue came to the limelight in 2015 when volunteers of Karnataka Janarogya Chaluvali (KJC), a group of public health activists, got to know from villagers in the district that women were apparently “getting cancer” and hence getting their uterus removed.
Based on this information, the group took up a fact-finding study in June-July, 2015, a media expose followed, after which two enquiry committees were formed.
“We had four major demands -- first, compensation should be awarded to victims, the licences of hospitals should be cancelled, doctors’ licences should be revoked, and a criminal investigation should be initiated against them. The district administration has sent an action taken the report to the principal secretary’s office that they have issued closure notice to four hospitals. One of the hospitals was mentioned in both the enquiry committee reports,” said Teena Xavier, KJC district convener.
“One hospital, in fact, is running in the same premises with a different name with the same set of doctors. Despite the state women’s commission inquiry, which spanned over eight months, Suo Motu cognisance of the matter hasn’t been taken. The women are apprehensive of the consequences of filing an FIR,” said Akhila Dasan, state convener of KJC.
One enquiry was conducted by the Department of Health and Family Welfare, and the other by Karnataka State Women’s Commission, panel headed by K Neela.
In the first enquiry, conducted in September 2015, 25 out of 38 hospitals submitted reports on the number of hysterectomies performed during the past 30 months. The second committee conducted an elaborate study over a period of eight months and submitted a report in April last year. The investigators primarily visited the hospitals whose names came up in the first enquiry.
“We have announced an indefinite protest from February 5. We are starting a campaign in villages. The Deputy Commissioner has asked us to come on February 2, where we expect to be informed about the action taken,” Teena said, adding that if they have to be booked under medical negligence, the Karnataka Medical Council (KMC) has to give its opinion on the matter.
“Complaints were filed even after the deaths of some women who underwent hysterectomies but no action was taken,” said Akhila.
Kalaburagi DHO Dr Shivaraj Sajjanashetty said, “The first enquiry report merely said no reasons were provided for conducting the hysterectomies but did not call them ‘unwarranted’. We have however written to KMC on this and are awaiting a reply.”