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'Adopt Clinical establishment Act urgently'

Thursday, June 13, 2019
By A Staff Reporter

Guarantee social securities to sugarcane cutting workers

Large numbers of families from Marathwada region migrate for work to the sugar belt of western Maharashtra, working as sugarcane cutters. The migrant women workers are charged fine of around Rs. 500 if they take off from work for even a day during their menstrual period. Hence to get rid of menstrual periods which become a barrier for their work and earning, these women are opting for hysterectomies. Thousands of such women workers have been induced by private hospitals in Beed to undergo medically unnecessary hysterectomies. The consultation was organised on 12th June at Mumbai by Women’s rights activists, health activists and labour rights activists to discuss the various dimensions related to this multifaceted issue and raise demands towards addressing this issue at different levels.

Trupti Malti provided the introduction to this consultation. In the first session, cane cutter women workers from Beed who have been induced to undergo unnecessary hysterectomies had also come for this consultation and talked about their experiences and problems they faced at workplace and in hospitals. These women talked about early marriages, repeated deliveries, extensive physical work, lack of basic facilities at sugarcane farms and indebtedness for the procedure of hysterectomies. Women further shared that, no proper information was shared with them by doctor about the implications of the hysterectomies. Also none of them was given any medical reports.  They also mentioned about post-operative complications such as backache, weakness etc.

Nilam Gore, MLA, Shivsena, said that in the MOU between contractors and workers should include certain terms such as leaves to women workers during menstrual periods and for delivery. Meeting should be held with sugar factory industrialists on this issue and civil society organizations should provide them guidelines to add in the contract with workers’. She also thrown light on the use of women as a vehicle of misconceptions and talked about need for awareness campaign as well as need for having comprehensive and gender sensitive approach towards women health.

Manisha Kayande, MLA, Shivsena made a promised that all the women MLAs of Shivsena will fight for this issue in the upcoming state assembly.

Dr. Suchitra Dalvi, Gynaecologist endorsed the need of regulation private hospitals and strengthening of public health system in the state.

Dr. AbhayShukla( co-convener, Jan SwasthyaAbhiyan) said that, Maharashtra Medical Council should take immediate punitive action against all involved doctors and whose medical licenses may be cancelled.

Dr. Chincholikar, Assistant Director, Public health, talked about actions taken by public health department so far. She mentioned that, a committee has been formed to conduct investigation in a secretive manner on hospitals which have performed maximum number of hysterectomies in Beed and punitive action will be taken against them, in case they are found guilty. She also mentioned that state is also in the process of preparing protocol for conducting the procedure of hysterectomy.

Demands put forth at the end of consultation...
1    Long overdue and very much required ‘Clinical Establishment Act’ for regulation of private hospitals should be enacted in upcoming state assembly session on urgent basis.

2    Detailed enquiry should be done in 11 private hospitals from Beed district, where most of the hysterectomies were performed.Maharashtra Medical Councilshould take immediate punitive action against all involved doctors, whose medical licenses may be cancelled. Women, on whom unwarranted hysterectomies have been performed, should be provided compensation and those private hospitals should bear this cost.

3    State Government should prepare protocol regarding treatment of common gynecological conditions and rational indications to perform hysterectomy. Towards this, a state level committee should be formed including public health officials and doctors (such as gynecologists associated with Alliance of Doctors for Ethical Healthcare) and civil society representatives,which could be given responsibility to oversee implementation of protocols by private hospitals. Until the protocol is prepared and implemented in the state, hysterectomy procedure should be allowed only in government hospitals. In an exceptional situation, private hospitals can perform it only with the prior authorization based on scrutiny of case details,done from the state level.

4    The findingsfrom any surveys regarding hysterectomies conducted by state should be made available on government websites.

5    Under the Social security act 2008, a board of sugar cane cutters should be formed and all the workers should be registered under that. A mechanism should come in place to ensure the provision of entitlements to these workers under the social security act. Sexual harassment at workplace act and Minimum wages act should be implemented for these workers.Employment guarantee act should also be strictly implemented.      

6    Basic livelihood facilities such as drinking water, house, schools, health services, mobile clinics, ration etc should be made accessible and available easily.  Contractors should be responsible for ensuring availability of these services for workers.

7    Board of sugar factories should ensure safe and secure work environment for women workers.

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