Bolivia offers to remove some French breast implants
Bolivian health authorities said Thursday that in some cases French-made breast implants that could be at risk of rupturing would be removed for free.
However their priority will be to increase vigilance on plastic surgeons, and to "protect those people who have received the prosthesis," Deputy Health Minister Martin Maturano told AFP.
Maturano said that in the western city of Santa Cruz, where there in a large number of the cases "free surgery to remove the prostheses" will be offered for "affected women who ask for it."
In Santa Cruz, a group representing local plastic surgeons and the local health department signed an agreement to remove the implants at no cost.
Between 300,000 and 400,000 women in 65 countries from Europe to Latin America have implants made with sub-standard silicone gel by the now-bankrupt French company Poly Implant Prothese (PIP).
France's health ministry has advised women in France to have their PIP implants removed, saying that while there is no proven cancer risk, the prostheses could rupture.
Documents obtained by AFP showed tens of thousands of women in more than 65 countries, mainly in South America and western Europe, received implants produced by PIP.
Maturano said that Bolivia's Ministry of Health will offer help to local health departments concerning the breast implants.
In Bolivia, most breast implants come from China and Brazil, and only three companies are authorized to import them.
The French-made PIP implants were smuggled into Bolivia, Maturano said, so the importers will face charges of contraband and crimes against the user's health.
There are no official figures on the number of breast implants in Bolivia, population 10 million, but medical sources estimate the figure is around 100 per month. Most of the operations take place in Santa Cruz, where women from neighboring Brazil go for low-cost operations.
Separately, Ecuador announced Thursday that it banned the sale of PIP implants.
Deputy Health Minister Juan Moreira, who made the announcement on his Twitter account, also said there was "no major cancer risk" with the PIP implants, but warned of possible rupture.
Some 5,000 Ecuadoran women have PIP implants, according to the daily El Comercio.
Venezuela's public health service on Tuesday said it will remove PIP breast implants for free.
© 2011 AFP