The impoverished state of Tamil Nadu in southern India has offered free breast surgeries to thousands of men and women to boost their self-confidence.
Convinced that the move may even eradicate poverty, health officials are targeting poor people as they “also have a right to look beautiful.”
The bizarre initiative was launched at Stanley Medical College and Hospital in Chennai, according to the Indian Express. Expansion plans are currently underway.
The move didn’t come as a surprise to locals because the state has previously showered people with laptops, bicycles and goats, among other things.
The Times of India quoted Health Minister C. Vijaya Baskar as asking:
“Why should beauty treatment not be available to the poor? If we don’t offer they may opt for dangerous methods or take huge loans for it.”
However, critics argue that the government should instead save the money for treating serious medical conditions.
Dr. S. Elango, a former public health director, said:
“The scheme sounds populist, but it is not an ideal public health programme. State funds are required for emerging non communicable diseases and communicable diseases. It is sad that we are now focusing on beauty instead of life-saving surgeries.”
Meanwhile, some citizens/netizens lashed out at the idea on Twitter:
Tamil Nadu is ranked among the top in India’s public healthcare system. Aside from breast surgeries, Stanley Hospital, for one, offers procedures such as cleft lip surgeries and hand transplants for free.
Nearly 93,000 cosmetic surgeries were carried out in India in 2016, according to the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. These included breast reconstruction, which can cost at least 80,000 Indian Rupees ($1,230) in private hospitals.
Dr. V Ramadevi, head of plastic surgery at Stanley Hospital, told BBC that all patients will be examined by physicians before requested surgical procedures are performed.
“We encourage them to talk about their problems. We explain to them in detail about changes in their breasts after the surgery.”