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Prevalence of hysterectomy among rural and urban women with and without health insurance in Gujarat, India

Sapna Desai, Tara Sinha, Ajay Mahal
Reproductive Health Matters 2011, 19 (37): 42-51
21555085
This paper presents findings on hysterectomy prevalence from a 2010 cross-sectional household survey of 2,214 rural and 1,641 urban, insured and uninsured women in low-income households in Ahmedabad city and district in Gujarat, India. The study investigated why hysterectomy was a leading reason for use of health insurance by women insured by SEWA, a women's organisation that operates a community-based health insurance scheme. Of insured women, 9.8% of rural women and 5.3% of urban women had had a hysterectomy, compared to 7.2% and 4.0%, respectively, of uninsured women. Approximately one-third of all hysterectomies were in women younger than 35 years of age. Rural women used the private sector more often for hysterectomy, while urban use was almost evenly split between the public and private sectors. SEWA's community health workers suggested that such young women underwent hysterectomies due to difficulties with menstruation and a range of gynaecological morbidities. The extent of these and of unnecessary hysterectomy, as well as providers' attitudes, require further investigation. We recommend the provision of information on hysterectomy as part of community health education for women, and better provision of basic gynaecological care as areas for advocacy and action by SEWA and the public health community in India.

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