In a mass sterilization of 83 women in India on Saturday, a surgeon used infected instruments; now, 10 patients are dead and 69 others have been hospitalized, a local health official tells Bloomberg. "It's a case of negligence," says the chief minister of Chhattisgarh state, where surgeons are banned from conducting more than 30 such procedures daily. A reproductive rights activist in New Delhi uses starker terms: "Chhattisgarh was a culmination of no accountability in the system and when basic hygiene conditions aren't met," she says, adding that such circumstances are "commonplace." The doctor involved, RK Gupta, has been suspended amid a criminal investigation, says the state's chief minister.
The district's top health officer says the deaths were a result of "infection causing septic shock" and that it's "too early to say that it was due to sterilization." All the women were poor villagers younger than 32, the AP reports. They were paid about $10 each to join the sterilization program, the state's chief medical officer says. The surgeries took place within a six-hour period. As the country works toward population control, sterilizations are voluntary. But amid events like single-day sterilization drives, India has the third-highest female sterilization rate in the world—and while 37% of married women have undergone the process, just 1% of men have had vasectomies, a national survey shows. Chhattisgarh state is aiming for 180,000 sterilizations for the 12 months preceding March, the chief medical officer says.