New Delhi: Health experts from different verticals on Wednesday expressed concern over the growing trend of hysterectomy (uterus removal).
India sees a high number of uterus removal cases, even among much younger women, which may inflict a physical, social and mental health burden on them, experts said.
“Families are major decision makers in our society when it comes to women’s health, and hence families need to be made aware of such issues so that the women have their support in seeking best medical advice,” said Amita Bali Vohra, DDG, Government of India.
Speaking at an event held here to create awareness on unnecessary hysterectomies in the country, Vohra said that more and more younger women are going for hysterectomy, as childbearing is completed early in India, adding that guidelines should be in place to educate and guide these women.
The event was organised as part of the nationwide campaign — ‘Preserve the Uterus’ — launched in April by Bayer in collaboration with the Federation of Obstetric and Gynaecological Societies of India (FOGSI) and IHW Council, focusing on policy perspectives in states, strengthening health systems to cater to women’s health issues and raise awareness on the impact of hysterectomies.
‘Preserve the Uterus’ campaign aims to create awareness among women and healthcare practitioners about modern and alternative methods of management of gynaecological diseases and create awareness on the impact of hysterectomy so that women may make empowered and informed choices.
While talking about government initiatives on women’s health, K. Madan Gopal, Senior Consultant (Health), NITI Aayog, observed that work is underway to bring gynaecological care into focus as compared to obstetric care, which has been the government’s focus area since the last couple of decades.
Screenings and diagnostic care for women’s health also need to be initiated at a larger scale, Gopal said.
Post-hysterectomy, many women report medical issues such as backache, vaginal discharge, weakness, problems in sexual health and incontinence.
Hysterectomy at a younger age is associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke and osteoporosis, while also affecting the mental health of the individual. In India, hysterectomies are the second most common gynaecological surgery.
“As an important stakeholder in healthcare, Bayer is committed to driving innovation in the area of women’s healthcare and works together with like-minded partners on issues that greatly impact the lives of women,” said Manoj Saxena, Managing Director, Bayer Zydus.
“A woman’s rights over her body and her health must not be neglected for economic benefits while risking her health. With an increase in use of social media especially in rural areas, initiatives like this will go a long way in giving a fillip to health awareness and prioritising women’s reproductive health,” said Kamal Narayan, CEO, IHW Council.
According to the latest NFHS data, the median age for having undergone the procedure is estimated to be 34 years. The experts said that it is below global trends, which indicate that the procedure is performed close to menopause.