It has become the vogue even in developing nation like Nigeria, which has one of the highest maternal mortality ratios in the world. Until now, several unpublished studies have shown that most doctors in Nigeria prefer to cut open pregnant women rather than allow them have vaginal delivery.
But the World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned that doctors are putting the health of women and their babies at risk by performing caesarean sections too readily.
Officials of the United Nations Apex Health body in a new statement publishedMonday said the procedure should only be carried out when ‘medically necessary’ because it can lead to infections and even death. Indeed, caesarean section is one of the most common surgeries in the world, with rates continuing to rise, particularly in high- and middle-income countries. Although it can save lives, caesarean section is often performed without medical need, putting women and their babies at-risk of short- and long-term health problems.
The new statement from the WHO underscores the importance of focusing on the needs of the patient, on a case-by-case basis, and discourages the practice of aiming for “target rates”.
The WHO Statement on Caesarean Section Rates is based on two studies carried out by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)/United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)/United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF)/WHO/World Bank Special Programme for Research, Development and Research Training in Human Reproduction. This programme is the main instrument within the United Nations system for research in human reproduction, working within the Department of Reproductive Health and Research of the World Health Organization.
According to the statement, caesarean section may be necessary when vaginal delivery might pose a risk to the mother or baby – for example due to prolonged labour, foetal distress, or because the baby is presenting in an abnormal position. However, caesarean sections can cause significant complications, disability or death, particularly in settings that lack the facilities to conduct safe surgeries or treat potential complications.