A state in India is taking an interesting approach toward health care. To alleviate the financial stress on its residents, the state will be offering breast implant surgery free of charge. This isn't the only kind of surgery that state will be offering the people. This will also be available for the men.

Let Them Have Breasts

The state of Tamil Nadu launched the free breast surgery for its residents on Wednesday Feb. 21. It is available at one clinic in the capital Chennai. Tamil Nadu's health minister argues that the move isn't done for the cosmetic benefit of the residents but for their overall well-being.

"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," said C. Vijaya Baskar, health minister of Tamil Nadu.

Surgeries are available at the Stanley Medical College and Hospital in Chennai. Tamil Nadu's health ministry will be taking care of the payment for the surgeries at the moment, but officials hope that the state's health care provider, United India, will cover the procedures.

Health officials at Stanley Medical College say that women will not be judged for the surgery. Patients will have to undergo basic tests before they have the surgery performed on them.

"We have been doing surgeries to reconstruct entire breasts or a part for cancer victims. Now, we plan to do surgeries for those who want to increase or reduce their breast size," said Dr. V. Ramadevi, head of plastic surgery at Stanley Medical College. The doctor added that women with larger breasts sometimes experience many problems such as pain on their back and shoulders, rashes, and serious infections.

Breast augmentation will not be the only surgeries that are provided free of charge to residents of Tamil Nadu. Stanley Medical College will also be providing free cleft lip surgeries for kids and hand transplants.

The program isn't a big hit with everyone. A former public health director has come out against the program. He wonders if the funds aren't being misallocated when they could be used to help residents with serious diseases.

Former public health director Dr. S. Elango called the whole program a scheme, saying that the idea seemed populist, letting the poor enjoy some of the benefits of being rich. He said that the funds should be properly used in treating diseases instead of providing plastic surgery.

This could be one of the first programs for its kind. There are currently no other state-run programs that offer free breast surgeries for their residents.

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