Adding a serious dimension, health experts alleged that the number of caesarians performed every year in Kerala far outstrips the limit set by WHO.
While the UN health agency has fixed caesarian section not to exceed 15 per every 100 deliveries, it is as high as 45 in Kerala, a public health expert said here.
The District Medical Officer (DMO) Dr K M Sirabudeen started gathering information on the incident from authorities of the Cherthala Taluk hospital on the shocking incident.
DMO sources said the official would visit the hospital today to take statements of affected women, their relatives and hospital employees. He had also sought details of all surgeries conducted in the hospital in the last four months.
Alappuzha District Collector P Venugopal had yesterday asked the DMO to submit a preliminary report on the issue which will be discussed at a meeting of health and district officials here later this afternoon.
The incident came to light after relatives of some women complained that 21 caesarian sections were performed within two days earlier this week so that the three doctors in the gynaecology department at Cherthala Taluk Hospital could keep off duty during Easter holidays.
Relatives had alleged that some of these cases involved women who could wait till next Sunday for delivery. They alleged that the operations were pre-poned without bothering about available facilities, which allowed only a handful of deliveries or caesarian procedure to be performed on a day.
The bed-strength and treatment facilities in the hospital are reportedly inadequate for proper post-delivery care of mothers and new borns.
The government has a string of holidays since Thursday, ahead of Easter. But there are restrictions on doctors and paramedics in the Government Health services absenting from duty on holidays.
Located in a densely populated coastal town, the Chertahala hospital is heavily relied by less privileged sections of society like fisherfolks and coir workers.