WHO warns as caesarean section increases to 21 per cent

The World Health Organisation (WHO) says the use of cesarean sections continues to increase worldwide, now accounting for more than one in five deliveries.

The WHO, in a statement, stated that the increase in rates suggested a growing number of medically unnecessary and potentially dangerous procedures.

The United Nations health agency said worldwide cesarean section rates have risen from about seven per cent in 1990 to 21 per cent today, and are expected to continue to rise in the current decade.

According to new research from the World Health body disclosed that the number is expected to continue to rise over the next decade, with nearly a third (29 per cent) of all births likely to be by caesarean section by 2030.

While a cesarean section can be an essential and life-saving surgery, it can put women and babies at unnecessary risk of short- and long-term health problems if performed without medical need, research shows.

The statement quoted Dr Ian Askew, Director of the WHO Department of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Research, as said Caesarean sections are absolutely essential in saving lives.

“Caesarean sections are absolutely essential for saving lives in situations where vaginal births would pose risks, so all health systems must ensure rapid access to all women when needed.

“But not all Caesarean sections performed today are medically necessary, unnecessary surgery can be harmful to both a woman and her baby.

The report said Caesarean sections may be essential in situations such as prolonged or obstructed labour, fetal distress, or because the baby presents in an abnormal position.

Askew however said that as with all surgeries, they can come with risks.

“These include the potential for heavy bleeding or infection, slower recovery times after childbirth, delays in establishing breastfeeding and skin-to-skin contact, and an increased likelihood of complications during childbirth. future pregnancies.

“Caesarean section rates are increasing around the world, but unevenly, with increases expected to continue.

“There are significant differences in a woman’s access to Caesarean section, depending on where in the world she lives.

“In the least developed countries, around eight per cent of women have given birth by caesarean section, including only five per cent in sub-Saharan Africa, indicating a worrying lack of access to this life-saving surgery.


He said quality, women-centric was needed to tackle the high reliance on Caesarean section

“The causes of high Caesarean section use vary considerably between and within countries; drivers include health sector policies and financing, cultural norms, perceptions and practices, preterm birth rates and quality of health care.

“Rather than recommending specific target rates, WHO stresses the importance of focusing on the unique needs of each woman during pregnancy and childbirth.

The statement further quoted Dr Ana Betran, a doctor at the WHO, as saying that “it is important that all women can talk to health care providers.

“It is important for all women to be able to talk to health care providers and participate in decision-making about their childbirth, receiving adequate information, including the risks and benefits.

“Emotional support is an essential aspect of quality care throughout pregnancy and childbirth.”

WHO has therefore recommended certain non-clinical actions that can reduce the medically unnecessary use of Caesarean sections, in the general context of high quality and respectful care:

WHO recommends educational interventions that actively involve women in planning their childbirth, such as childbirth preparation workshops, relaxation programs and psychosocial support, where appropriate, for those fearful of childbirth. pain or anxiety.

“The implementation of such initiatives should include continuous monitoring and evaluation.

“Using evidence-based clinical guidelines, performing regular audits of caesarean section practices in healthcare facilities, and providing timely information to healthcare professionals on the results.” “

He further recommended that a second medical opinion be required for a caesarean section decision in settings where this is possible.

“With the sole aim of reducing caesarean sections, certain interventions have been piloted by certain countries but require more rigorous research.

“A model of collaborative midwife-obstetrician care, for which care is provided primarily by midwives, with the 24-hour support of a dedicated obstetrician

“Financial strategies that equalise the fees charged for vaginal deliveries and cesarean sections.”

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WHO warns as caesarean section increases to 21 per cent


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