ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Hysterectomy as a ‘Magic Bullet’ for Gynaecological Morbidities

Commercialisation of Health

The increasing prevalence of hysterectomies among young women in various states of India over the past decade has raised significant concerns. The study on hysterectomy among rural women from weaker socio-economic backgrounds in a district in Maharashtra examines the factors that shape the choice of healthcare facilities. Existing studies and news reports indicate that among the various stakeholders, private practitioners unnecessarily prescribe hysterectomy for monetary interests.

Hysterectomy is the most frequently performed major gynaecological procedure, wherein the uterus is surgically removed (Prayas 2013; Sardeshpande 2014). It is perform­ed for benign (not fatal) and malignant (cancerous) indications (Aarts et al 2015). The National Family Health Survey (NFHS)-5 data states that 3% of women under the age group of 15–49 years had undergone hysterectomy in 2019–21 (Kumari and Kundu 2022). Studies show that approximately 90% of hysterectomies are performed for benign conditions, such as fibroids causing abnormal uterine bleeding (Aarts et al 2015).

In April 2023, the Supreme Court of India ordered all states and union territories to follow the guidelines formulated by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to monitor “unnecessary” hysterectomies being performed in the country (Hamid 2023). This was the result of a public interest litigation (PIL) initiated by the health activist Dr Narendra Gupta in 2013, who had then carried out a study to document how women were being subjected to hysterectomies without being offered an alternative treatment, jeopardising their health in the process. The petition also highlighted the invol­vement of private hospitals in performing such hysterectomies (Perappadan 2023). Due to several serious instances, hysterectomy has received enormous attention in the health policy debates in India in the past few years (Desai et al 2016). The trigger has been the increased focus by a series of media reports that highlighted an unusual surge in the number of women undergoing hysterectomy in many parts of the country, with a significant number of cases involving young premenopausal women from poor families (Ray and Sonnad 2017; Rao 2016; Iyer 2016; Desai et al 2011).

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Updated On : 6th Feb, 2024
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