Four Indian women die after sterilisation procedure

NEW DELHI (AFP) - Four women have died and nine others were hospitalised after undergoing sterilisation at a government-run medical camp in India, an official said Wednesday (Aug 31).

India has been running sterilisation programmes for almost seven decades to control its burgeoning population, but the family planning scheme has often run into controversies such as botched surgeries or coercion including when millions were forcefully operated on in the 1970s.

A medical officer in the southern state of Telangana said more than three dozen women were operated on at a state-run sterilisation camp last Thursday and four of them died over the weekend due to suspected sepsis.

Another nine women were being treated following complications, said the official, who did not want to be named.

The authorities said all the victims were in their 20s and an investigation had been ordered.

"We are awaiting the post-mortem reports to know the exact cause of death before we proceed further," the official told AFP.

The state government has promised 500,000 rupees (S$8,800) and a house to the families of the victims following small protests alleging negligence by the doctors.

Sterilisation camps are common in India, particularly in vast rural belts, but so also are botched surgeries across the nation of 1.4 billion people, which is projected to overtake China as the most populous country next year.

More than four million women were sterilised in 2014-15, according to the latest government data, compared with 100,000 men in the same time period.

Nearly 530 people died after undergoing sterilisation at state-run medical centres between 2012 and 2016, according to government figures.

Critics say the cause was medical negligence by doctors using dirty equipment or expired drugs.

India forcefully sterilised more than six million people, mostly unmarried poor men, in 1975 under a controversial state-run programme to control its population.

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