PUCL Bulletin, Feb., 2001

Insaaf International

Price she paid for Punjab State Family Planning services at Sangrur

28 Years old Daya, a resident of village Andana and mother of four, paid price of Punjab State family planning services at Sangrur with life of her infant. A poor housewife opted for family planning services in government hospital, as she said she could not afford private services. Little she knew that it would cost her much more than money. She herself is struggling for her life in Rajendra Hospital at Patiala.

On fateful day of 4.12.00 Daya wife of Hawa Singh, a daily wage earner went to the Mini- Primary Health Center at Khannauri in District Sangrur for sterilization operation. She waited for many hours before the surgeon came. After he reached, the waiting patients were hurdled one by one as animals to be butchered in the Operation Theater, if the shabby and dingy room can be called that. Daya was one of them. After the operation she started vomiting and the medical personnel labeling it as common after
effects of the analgesia and medicine asked her to go home and rest. After reaching home relying on the advice of medical personnel, took vomiting as normal side effect. Later she developed fever and was admitted to the hospital at Sangrur and then after about 4 days she was referred to Rajindra Hospital at Patiala. At Patiala she was operated upon for drainage of Intra-peritoneal Pus collection. She suffered from severe abdominal infection like all other survivors of the Family Planning camp at Khannauri, Sangrur held on 4.12.00. Out of total 11 women operated in the camp two died and remaining nine are
suffering from severe infection.

Daya had to take loan for transportation and other secondary expenses including for her food and attendant while in the hospital. There was no one to look after her four little children. Nani, her 10 years old daughter mothered her siblings, a 14 years old brother Mukul, Kuldeep 7 yrs and 3 months old breast-fed baby Paramjit. Neither Daya could not breast-feed her infant nor she could afford to keep her children near her in Patiala. Little children at home had no money to feed themselves and the infant. Hungry three months old child breathed her last in lap of her 10 years old sister in front of other two siblings while her mother was fighting for life in Rajindra hospital. The children were alone at home when the baby died.

"I would not let her die of hunger even if I had to do any thing" said sobbing Daya. "I left my little girl hale and hearty and now she is gone. I could not even see her for the last time."

For the callous, insensitive, spineless and corrupt health officials, it may just be another episode that needs systemic cover up. For Daya and her children it is a nightmare that they will never forget and which will leave deep scars on their souls and lives. For all of us it is a matter of shame.

Daya does not understand the human rights language, her right to health, obligations of the government to ensure adequate standards of health of its citizens, poor friendly policies that officials make by spending millions of rupees on conducting meetings etc, claims of world Bank and government for alleviating poverty and corporatizing health sector for the benefit of women and poor. The only thing that Daya understands is her bad luck to be born poor.

Till releasing of this report none of the patients had received any compensation or any monetary support for their secondary expenses, which is further pushing them into debt traps. The debt traps that probably they will never be able to break for their whole life, thanks to the and approach of the government family planning program.

Insaaf International will soon release the complete report on the Family Planning Camp at Khannauri, Sangrur.

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