At least eight women have died in India and dozens more are seriously ill after a mass state-run sterilisation program went wrong.
The women were offered an incentive of around $26 to undergo the procedure, which is encouraged as a way to control the country’s booming population.
There have been angry protests in India’s Chhattisgarh state, where more than 60 women have been hospitalised with complications after sterilisation.
They were among more than 80 women who had laparoscopic tubal ligation surgery at a free government-run family planning camp on Saturday.
The state’s Chief Minister, Raman Singh, says a committee’s been set up to establish what went so badly wrong.
“Certainly this is a big issue, a huge negligence and for such incidents to happen at a national level program, which is used by people from across the country, is very unfortunate.”
Media reports say four doctors have been suspended and police have registered a criminal complaint.
A relative of one of those who died has accused medical staff of carelessness.
“The authorities in the government hospitals should tell us if they want money like in private hospitals, at least they will treat patients properly. The staff here work carelessly.”
The women were paid the equivalent of around $26 as an incentive to have the surgery.
Health workers also received payments for bringing them to the camp.
Rights groups say the target-driven nature of the country’s population control program has led, in some case, to women being coerced into sterilisation.
Social activist Annie Raja is calling for a high-level inquiry.
“How can it happen? And in this incident the government should immediately conduct a thorough inquiry and the government should verify the credentials of those doctors who have conducted this procedure.”
More than four million sterilisations were performed in India in the last financial year.
While the sterilisation program is voluntary, critics say it unfairly targets the poor.
The issue is not a new one.
The health ministry has admitted between 2009 and 2012, the government paid compensation for 568 deaths resulting from sterilisation.