Population Foundation India issues statement on sterilisation deaths

November 14, 2014


PSN member, Population Foundation India, has issued a statement on the tragic and shocking deaths of 13 women during a sterilisation camp in India, calling for action to ensure that family planning programmes are safe, respect and protect human rights, and provide of a range of contraceptive choices.


Indian woman 250

Credit: Meena Kadri via Flickr

Statement from Population Foundation India on the Chhattisgarh sterilisation deaths

Population Foundation of India is deeply anguished at the death of 13 young mothers during a sterilization camp at a hospital in Bilaspur, Chhattisgarh. The deaths should awaken us to the fact that the target-free approach, which India claims to follow, is not yet a reality.

Though the word ‘target’ has been removed from the Population Policy (2000), it has been replaced by ‘expected level of achievement’. The performance of the health staff in family planning continues to be determined by the number of women they round up for the sterilization procedure or the number they operate on. In fact, the awards and the monetary compensation they receive are directly linked to their performance on numbers instead of quality of services.

As an organisation working in the field of family planning for 40 years, we maintain that family planning is a way to save mothers and children; give them a healthier life. For repeated pregnancies, result in poor health for mothers and their babies. India has a huge unmet need for family planning.

The way forward is to begin by focusing on quality of care by adhering strictly to prescribed guidelines, by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in its Standard Operating procedures of Sterilisation Services in Camps. According to the guidelines, one doctor should not do more than 30 sterilisations with three laparoscopes in one day. The doctor in Chhattisgarh is said to have performed 83 operations in less than five hours. The guidelines also state that all sterilisation camps must be organised in established government facilities. But these camps are often help in schools and panchayat buildings completely violating the rules. In Chhattisgarh, the camp was organised in a private charitable hospital, and according to reports, did not have even the basic life-saving facilities.

Population Foundation of India calls for the diversion of funds, now being spent on incentives to health staff and compensation to the women, to investment in quality of care in government facilities. Family planning saves lives. When it ends up taking lives of young mothers, or inflicts them with lifelong morbidity, it is a tragedy of monumental proportions as we have seen in Chhattisgarh.

The situation calls for an urgent response. PFI urges the government to make available a wide range of quality temporary contraceptive methods, give clear and adequate medically accurate information including the benefits and risks, so that individuals can choose the method they want to adopt.

Poonam Muttrija
Executive Director