A photograph has emerged purportedly showing an Indian doctor performing a sterilisation procedure on a woman using a bicycle pump.
The medical professional used the pump to inflate the abdomen of 56 women while conducting a laparoscopic tubectomy, according to The Hindustan Times.
The shocking incident took place 150km from Bhubaneswar, the state capital of Odisha – and comes just weeks after more than a dozen women died in two state-run sterilisation health camps in Chhattisgarh.
Doctor Mahesh Prasad Rout is said to have carried out the procedures on Friday in the village of Banarpal – but he maintained he is not alone in using such equipment.
Shocking picture emerges of indian doctors using a BICYCLE pump to carry out sterilisation surgery on a women pic.twitter.com/tjZUATPSz4; Kula Yellow (@KulaYellow) December 2, 2014
Rout said that over the past 10 years he has carried out over 60,000 operations using this method and has never encountered any problems, but a senior surgeon said the hospital should have instead used an insufflator to pump carbon dioxide gas into the women’s abdomens.
Local residents are said to be angered by the methods and have staged protests in the area with the support of opposition party Bharatiya Janata.
The government is said to have ordered an investigation.
Free sterilisation surgery is being offered in India as part of a government programme to curb the country’s population growth. As it stands, India is expected to overtake China as the most populous nation by 2050.
Following the deaths in Chhattisgarh, Doctor RK Gupta was arrested on 12 November. He reportedly carried out the procedures in a room of an unused private hospital in a village called Pandari, which were allegedly filthy and dusty, while bloodied sheets were not changed between patients because of the high turnover, it was claimed.
Dr Gupta denied reports that his equipment was rusty or dirty and said it was the government's duty to control the number of people that turned up to the clinic. He faces charges of causing death by negligence, which he denies, saying he is being made a “scapegoat”. He believes post-op medication may have been contaminated and that this could have caused the deaths.