India’s main opposition party has called a general strike in central Chhattisgarh state where 13 women have now died after botched sterilization surgery at a state-run health camp.
Sixty women remain in hospital and at least 20 are in a critical condition following the tubectomy operations.
A team of doctors from the capital, Delhi, are being flown to the state to help out with the emergency.
Health camps are staged throughout India to control its huge population.
The victims’ families, all from poor families, each have been promised a compensation of about $6,600.
Four senior health officials have been suspended and a police complaint has been registered against the surgeon who performed the operations.
The Congress party in the state has held protests and called a general strike to demand the resignation of the chief minister and Health Minister Amar Agrawal.
The shutdown is being supported by the state’s chamber of commerce and several other organizations.
The tubectomies were carried out on 83 women on Saturday in Pendari village in Bilaspur district. According to government rules, one surgeon should only perform 35 operations in a day.
Doctors say their condition keeps fluctuating rapidly, and it is hard to say if anyone is out of danger.
A team of four doctors from Delhi’s premier AIIMS hospital (All India Institute of Medical Sciences) is on its way to Chhattisgarh to help with the treatment of women admitted to four hospitals there.
Chhattisgarh health officials have denied any responsibility for the deaths, but some suggested that medics were under pressure from the authorities to perform too many sterilization operations in too little time.
Preliminary examinations showed the deaths had been caused by infection or shock as a result of blood loss, state deputy health director Amar Singh told the Press Trust of India news agency.
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