Sterilisation reversal brings hope to parents
Chennai (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Vasanthi lost her son and daughter when the tsunami struck on December 26. She was speechless and barely eating when health workers tried to help her at a relief camp in her village of Kallar in India's Tamil Nadu state.
The 35-year-old fisherwoman was diagnosed as suffering a typical case of post-traumatic stress disorder and though she regained her speech within a week of starting treatment, the counsellors could not lift her state of sheer depression.
"We discovered that she could not get rid of her depression simply because she knew that she could not conceive again as she had undergone sterilisation six years ago," said Nirmala Palanisamy, one of about 300 counsellors in Tamil Nadu.
"As soon as we explained that there was a possibility of her becoming a mother again if she underwent a reversal of sterilisation, we noticed a remarkable change in her behaviour as her depression seemed to disappear."
Vasanthi and more than 3 million other women in Tamil Nadu have undergone sterilisation in the past decade, as part of a government-sponsored nationwide family-planning programme.
At a medical workshop in Chennai last week Ms Palanisamy reported that in three tsunami-wrecked villages of Nagapattinam district, she and her colleagues found 55 women who wanted their sterilisations reversed.
Government officials in Chennai said last week that families who lost all of their children to the tsunami would be offered free reversal of sterilisation procedures at government hospitals.
Tamil Nadu health secretary Sheela Rani Chunkath said the administrators of tsunami-affected coastal districts had been asked to list applicants and make arrangements for the free surgery.
A statement from the health department also said that those who wanted the surgery in a private hospital would be paid 25,000 rupees (,470) as reimbursement for their medical expenses.
According to the Community Health Education Society, a Chennai-based aid agency, more than 600 women and about 100 men who had undergone sterilisation were desperate to reverse the operations after losing their children to the tsunami.
"After we explained how the sterilisation could be reversed with a success rate as high as 60 per cent in the case of women and 70 per cent in the case of men, they became impatient for the surgery," said society director Pinagapani Manorama. "Some of them secretly headed for private hospitals in nearby cities and underwent the surgery using compensation money they had received for their children being killed by the tsunami."