Health minister Greg Hunt has publicly apologised to the thousands of Australian women who have been maimed and disabled by transvaginal pelvic mesh implants.

Urogynaecological meshes, also known as transvaginal meshes, are inserted as treatment for pelvic prolapse or urinary incontinence. Thousands of women have reported “devastating complications” from the insertion of the mesh, from vaginal bleeding and pain to “erosion“, when the mesh protrudes through tissue and into surrounding organs, wearing holes in the body as it moves.

A senate inquiry found that the women suffering with the implants had been ignored, let down and dismissed by health professionals and regulatory bodies, saying:

The committee was deeply concerned by the accounts it has received of women’s experiences at the hands of medical practitioners.

The inquiry found that most women were not told about possible complications from the mesh, or informed that the polypropylene implant was permanent and non-absorbable.

During the release of the details of the government’s response to the inquiry, Greg Hunt said:

On behalf of the Australian government, I say sorry to all of those women with the historic agony and pain that has come from mesh implantation, which have led to horrific outcomes.

A voluntary national register of women who have been adversely affected by mesh implantation will be set up by the government, and the sellers of the mesh will now be required to supply information leaflets and cards with each sale. Surgical mesh products have also been moved from the “medium to high risk” product category to “high risk”, and surgical repair of prolapse and mesh removal items will be added to the Medicare Benefits Schedule.

About 150,000 Australian women are estimated to have had transvaginal mesh implanted. For a long time, the adverse effects went underreported, which the inquiry says led to a “false indication of the safety” of the mesh. A class action lawsuit against manufacturer Johnson and Johnson is ongoing.

Source: Buzzfeed
Image: Getty Images / Lisa Maree Williams