Indian state offers free breast implants to underprivileged women
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Indian state offers free breast implants to underprivileged women

FREE healthcare is a luxury many across the world long for, but one south Indian state has gone above and beyond the care needed to stay healthy and is now providing free breast implants, courtesy of the health department.

On Wednesday, the Tamil Nadu health department launched its latest initiative offering the free service at a clinic in the capital Chennai. While the facility has always provided reconstructive surgery for cancer patients, the service has now been extended to those who wish to change their breasts for cosmetic or other health reasons.

Health officials said the move was to ensure underprivileged women have access to beauty surgeries that once were just the luxury of the wealthy.

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“Why should beauty treatment not be available to the poor,” health minister Vijaya Baskar told The Times of India. “If we don’t offer they may opt for dangerous methods or take huge loans for it.”

Chief surgeon at the clinic, Dr V Ramavedi said her patients come to her for many different reasons. Many come to reduce the size of their breasts after suffering back and shoulder pain, rashes and fungal infections. Others simply want a boost in confidence.

“As a plastic surgeon I don’t judge women when they seek surgery. If they are fit I recommend,” Ramavedi said.

The programme has not been without its critics though, with several public health experts accusing the government of wasting funds.

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“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,” said former public health director Dr S Elango. “It is sad that we are now focusing on beauty instead of life-saving surgeries.”

Cosmetic surgery has slowly grown in popularity in recent years, placing India in the top ten countries in the world for cosmetic procedures. According to the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, 878,180 procedures were carried out in country, 67,320 of which were breast augmentation or reduction.

Apart from providing breast surgery, the Chennai clinic will also perform free cleft lip surgeries for children and hand transplants among other procedures.