Take steps to reduce unnecessary hysterectomies, Centre tells States

Source: The post is based on the article “Take steps to reduce unnecessary hysterectomies, Centre tells States” published in The Hindu on 18th May 2023

What is the News?

The Union Health Ministry has written to States and Union Territories to curb unnecessary and unjustified hysterectomies on poor, less-educated women, particularly in the rural areas.

What is Hysterectomy?

Hysterectomy is surgery to remove the uterus. After a hysterectomy, one will not menstruate (have periods) or be able to get pregnant.

In India, there is increasing concern about patterns of hysterectomy at a population level. The community-based studies have consistently found rising hysterectomy rates among young women, between 28 and 36 years.

According to National Family Health Survey-4 (2015-16) estimates, the prevalence of hysterectomy was 3.6% among women 30 to 39 years of age and 9.2% among those who were between 40 and 49.

Prevalence of Hysterectomy varied greatly across states, with Andhra Pradesh and Telangana recording 20 to 23% in the age group 40 to 49.This was close to high-income countries — yet at a considerably low median age.

What did the Supreme Court say on Hysterectomy?

A petition was filed in the Supreme Court in 2013 about the involvement of private hospitals in performing such hysterectomies.

The petitioner said that women who should not have been subjected to hysterectomies but should have been provided alternative treatment.

Moreover, most women who were subjected to hysterectomies of this kind belonged to the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, or Other Backward Communities.

On this, the Supreme Court directed States and Union Territories to implement health guidelines formulated by the Centre to monitor “unnecessary” hysterectomies within three months. 

The court said that the “Right to health is an intrinsic element of the right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution. Life, to be enjoyed in all its diverse elements, must be based on robust conditions of health. There has been a serious violation of the fundamental rights of the women who underwent unnecessary hysterectomies”.

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