Bike pumps used to inflate women’s abdomen

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Old 06-Dec-2014
Post Bike pumps used to inflate women’s abdomen

New Delhi/Bhubaneswar: Barely a fortnight after the Chhatisgarh sterilisation botch-up where 13 women lost their lives, neighbouring state Odisha does not seem to have learnt any lesson from the tragedy.

On November 28, a doctor used a bicycle pump to inflate the abdomens of 56 women while conducting a procedure called a laparoscopic tubectomy during a sterilisation camp here.

The camp was held at Banarpal village of the Angul district, about 150km from capital Bhubaneswar. Doctor Mahesh Prasad Rout, who conducted the procedure, informed the Gulf News that the practice of using bicycle pump in laparoscopic tubectomy was not new.

“I am not alone. Normally insufflators are used in laparoscopy to pump carbon dioxide gas into the abdomen of women for regulating gas pressure during the operation. But insufflators are not available in many hospitals, so bicycle pumps come as a substitute. Surgeons often use bicycle pump in the rural camps where the facility of an operation theatre and other sophisticated equipments are not available. But adequate safeguards are followed while using cycle pumps and the nozzle tips are properly sterilised before conducting the procedures,” Rout informed the Gulf News over phone.

In the last ten years, Rout has conducted over 60,000 cases of laparoscopic tubectomy, a surgical procedure on women as a permanent method of contraception. Rout had retired from government service two years ago and had been empanelled as a surgeon to perform operations on call basis.

The move came on the trail of Centre seeking a report from the state government about the reported use of bicycle pumps during sterilisation procedures at the camp at Banparpal. Earlier, taking serious note of the matter, the state government had ordered an administrative probe into the incident.

The Odisha Human Rights Commission (OHRC) took suo motu cognisance of the bicycle pump use and sought government response within four weeks. OHRC called for a detailed report from the Angul CDMO and a response from the health secretary.

“A sterilisation camp held without adequate facilities is a serious health risk to women patients and use of a bicycle pump to inflate the abdomen of the patient with atmospheric air instead of carbon dioxide may lead to numerous health hazards,” a government statement quoting OHRC observation said.

Although the surgeon defended the procedure, it has angered the local residents. With the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) staging protests, the government has ordered a probe into the incident. Several workers and women activists of the BJP staged protests Friday and ransacked the government health centre at Banarpal where the surgeries were performed.

State health secretary Arti Ahuja informed the Gulf News that the chief district medical officer had been asked to make an inquiry on the sterilisation camp and submit a report in a week.

“The doctor who operated on the women has been removed from the panel of surgeons eligible for tubectomy. The CDMO has been asked to explain the lapse within two days. The government has decided that henceforth no such camp will be organised for sterilisation to ensure quality care. Only established health care centres with proper operation theatres can conduct the surgeries adhering to universal infection prevention practices only on Mondays between 9am and 4pm. Stringent action will taken against those found not following standard operation procedures. In no condition can a doctor perform more than 30 surgeries a day,” Ahuja informed the Gulf News.

She said she had written to the district collectors to ensure that post-operative bed facilities and privacy of the women are ensured during such surgeries. Additionally, the government has formed a special squad at the level of Director of the Family Welfare Department for random checks on such operations.

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