HYDERABAD, 13 April 2016 – Concerned over the increasing incidence of caesarean, or C-section rates in India, UNICEF, in partnership with the government of Telangana and the Centre for Economic and Social Studies (CESS), convened a two-day national consultation in Hyderabad to debate the issue and explore ways to arrest this rising trend.
Key representatives from the government of India’s ministry of health, WHO, professional physician bodies, officials from health departments of various states, NGOs, as wely as public and private health facilities, participated in the two-day consultation.
In India, the states of Telangana, Tripura and West Bengal have C-section rates of over 70 per cent in the private sector. Even in many western countries where high level of C- sections has been a topic of concern, the rate of caesarean has not surged so high. The rate of caesarean section was about 26 per cent in U.K. (in 2015) and about 32 per cent in the U.S. (in 2014).
According to the latest National Family Health Survey-4, with nearly 80 per cent of C-section cases reported in private hospitals and over 40 per cent of such cases in the public sector, Telangana has the highest number of C-section cases in the country.
While C-section can be a life-saving procedure for child delivery, over utilisation, without medical indication, is a growing concern. C-sections can cause complications for both mother and baby, and have been proven to be riskier than uncomplicated ‘normal’ births. Despite the dangers, many women, families and obstetricians in India are opting for C-section deliveries.
“C-section can cause significant and sometimes permanent complications, disability or death and should ideally only be undertaken when medically necessary,” said Dr Sanjeev Upadhyaya, health specialist, UNICEF. “Our focus needs to be on improving quality of care.”
Dr Dinesh Baswal, deputy commissioner of the maternal health department in the union ministry of health, further said that the government is monitoring the situation. “The government of India is closely monitoring this situation. While ensuring that all women have access to quality, comprehensive obstetric services, we need to expand our vision to include the rapidly escalating rates of caesarean (that) we are seeing.”
Experts also deliberated and proposed recommendations to improve the quality of care, strengthening the health systems, monitoring of maternity services and generating evidence to understand the determinants behind this trend to curb unnecessary C- sections during the two-day consultation.