Over the past few weeks, Melanie, Ashlee, and I have been working with CARPED to create a sustainable public health program to reduce the number of unnecessary hysterectomies among women in rural villages. If done correctly, this project will be applied throughout the country of India. Subhash, the director of CARPED, was one of the first people to recognize this problem. After several months of documentation and research, CARPED has estimated that in rural villages approximately 1 out 10 women under the age of 40 has received an unnecessary hysterectomy, some even as young as 19.
This problem stems from a lack of health education among the women, greedy doctors, and neglect from government hospitals due to the caste system. As a result, these women turn to “quack” doctors who make themselves easily accessible. These doctors tell patients that their simple stomach aches or minor vaginal problems are life threatening and can only be solved through an emergency hysterectomy, when in fact, many of these medical issues could be treated through pharmaceuticals. As a result of the hysterectomy and the sudden hormonal imbalance it causes, these women begin to suffer from an early onset of diseases normally developed later in life, i.e. cvd and osteoporosis.
The repercussions of getting a hysterectomy are so severe, that the woman is no longer able to care for her family due to being worse off after the surgery and creating a huge debt. Some women who receive hysterectomies do not realize they will not be able to have children, as a result their husbands will leave them, especially when they have become sicker due to not have their actual problem addressed. The circumstances surrounding these operations are what drive the HELP India team to create a public health and educational awareness program. Through awareness education it is our goal to prevent these women from receiving unnecessary hysterectomies. Healthier women make healthier families. Healthier families create healthier communities. With this vision it is truly easy to see how this is every ONE’s problem.
Here is a link to a news story on this problem