Ahead of the hysterectomy awareness month, global pharmaceutical major Bayer on Wednesday launched a nationwide campaign, ‘Preserve The Uterus’ to raise awareness about untimely and unnecessary hysterectomies in India. The campaign was launched in collaboration with the Integrated & Wellbeing (IHW) Council and the Federation of Obstetric and Gynaecological Societies of India (FOGSI) to educate women, especially in the rural parts of the country and also among healthcare practitioners about the importance of uterus and the impact of its unnecessary removal on the body.
Hysterectomy is the surgical removal of the uterus or womb from the body and it is generally common among women above the age of 45 years. Sometimes, it may also involve the removal of the cervix, ovaries, fallopian tubes, and other surrounding structures. However, in India six in every 100 women aged 30–49 have had a hysterectomy and the prevalence is about 11 per 100 women in the age group 45–49 years, according to a study in Reproductive Health journal. Over the years, there has been an increase in the number of hysterectomies in the country. According to experts, excessive bleeding is one of the main reasons for this rise in trend along with several social and cultural issues.
On many occasions, it has been found that patients who undergo hysterectomies do not need them and they can be treated by other available procedures. Meanwhile, some women feel it may help them in getting rid of their reproductive issues and they don’t realise that it can also cause new issues.
“The uterus and ovaries are the most vital organs of the female reproductive system. If the uterus is removed along with the ovaries it can advance the development of menopause by a few years. Menopause may also be linked to a range of chronic health conditions like osteoporosis and it may also increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. There is a need to create awareness and help women understand what uterus removal is, the disease that affects the uterus and the treatments available for them,” Dr Shantha Kumari, Gynaecologist and President of FOGSI said during the press conference on Wednesday.
She also said that through this campaign they also want to sensitise and educate healthcare practitioners and train them in modern methods of management of gynaecological diseases. This will help them in raising awareness about gynaecological issues like heavy menstrual bleeding among women.
“There is also a need to shackle cultural barriers and aware the women from the lower economic backgrounds of the consequences of this procedure. We will have to make such women understand that hysterectomy should be the last resort. There are so many treatments available. Times have changed,” Dr Shantha Kumari told Financial Express.com
During the press conference, Manoj Saxena, Managing Director, Bayer Zydus Pharma said that they are committed to helping doctors and patients manage a variety of gynaecological disorders with their innovative solutions in women’s healthcare.
“The ‘Preserve the Uterus’ campaign together with FOGSI, will help in educating healthcare practitioners across the country on modern methods of management of gynaecological conditions. We will also closely work with the IHW Council to engage with government bodies and raise awareness among women to empower them to make informed choices regarding their health”,” Saxena said.
According to a study by National Health Authority (NHA), from September 2018 to April 2019, 24,00,981 pre-authorizations were raised for all packages under PM-JAY(Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana) and Of these, 21,896 (0.9%) were for hysterectomy. The study had also revealed that six states –– Chhattisgarh (21.2%); Uttar Pradesh (18.9%); Jharkhand (12.2%); Gujarat (10.8%); Maharashtra (9.0%); and Karnataka (6.6 %) –– generated highest nearly 75% of all hysterectomy claims.
“We will conduct mass awareness programmes in a manner that is understood by all women. Currently, women don’t have the choice though there is a wide range of treatments available for them. They need to know that and there has to be some kind of counselling that can help them in talking with their doctors. We are also reaching out to a lot of state governments for these programmes for women. We are also looking at other partners who are into women’s healthcare,” Saxena told Financial Express.com.
The Managing Director of Bayer Zydus Pharma also told Financial Express.com that their main focus will be that before opting for a hysterectomy a woman is aware of all the available treatments for her so that she can make an informed choice.
Meanwhile, Kamal Narayan Omer, CEO of IHW Council along with other panelists informed that the campaign includes a multipronged approach to drive awareness, education and capacity building to support a favourable policy and regulatory environment for this issue among the women and healthcare practitioners.