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Centre writes to States to curb trend of unnecessary hysterectomies

Published: 25th May, 2023


The Ministry of Health has communicated with all relevant parties, urging them to collaborate in addressing the issue of unnecessary hysterectomies performed by specific medical institutions.

What is hysterectomy?

  • Hysterectomy is a surgical procedure to remove the uterus, and sometimes surrounding organs and tissues.
  • Main types of hysterectomy include:
    • Total hysterectomy: The entire uterus, including the cervix, is removed. The ovaries and fallopian tubes may or may not be removed along with the uterus.
    • Partial hysterectomy: This surgery involves removing the upper part of the uterus while leaving the cervix intact.
    • Radical hysterectomy: It involves the removal of the uterus, cervix, the upper part of the vagina, and nearby tissues, such as lymph nodes.
  • These procedures may be done through the vagina (with no incisions in the abdomen) or through an incision (cut) in the abdomen.
  • The procedure is carried out under the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana as well as other government schemes related to healthcare.

What is the issue?

  • Health threats (due to unawareness): Women who could have been offered alternative treatments were unnecessarily subjected to hysterectomies, posing significant risks to their health.
    • Most women who were subjected to hysterectomies of this kind belonged to the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, or Other Backward Communities.
  • Misuse: Several healthcare institutions misuse the procedure only to claim high insurance fees from governments under various health insurance schemes.
  • Threat to health rights: There has been a serious violation of the fundamental rights of the women (Article 21) who underwent unnecessary hysterectomies

The prevalence of hysterectomy was 3.6 per cent among women in the age group of 30 to 39 years and 9.2 per cent among those between 40 and 49 citing the National Family Health Survey-4 (2015-16) estimates.

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