Health Reforms See Drop in C-Section Births

Health Reforms See  Drop in C-Section Births Health Reforms See  Drop in C-Section Births

Childbirth by cesarean section increased at an alarming rate during the past two decades, from 37% in 1991 to 56% in 2013.

While global statistics says the “ideal rate” for c-section is between 10% and 15% of births, the figure is 50% in Iran, even reaching 90% in some private hospitals, said Health Minister Seyed Hassan Ghazizadeh Hashemi,.

Before implementation of the Health Reform Plan in 2014, no effective action was taken to reduce cesarean births; however, since last year, promotion of natural childbirth was considered one of the health priorities, the Persian language weekly ‘Salamat’ quoted him as saying.

As a first step towards reducing c-section, the Health Ministry declared natural delivery free of cost in all state-run hospitals.

Secondly, the ministry announced that funding for hospitals with high rates of cesarean births would be reduced by 10%. The other measure was improving hospital birthing units to encourage women in natural childbirth.

“By taking all these measures in the past two years, we have managed to reduce c-sections across the country, by 7% in state-run hospitals and 10% overall in both government and private hospitals,” Hashemi said.

Fortunately, along with an increase in natural birth rates, maternal and newborn health indicators also improved significantly. In the current year, maternal mortality rate declined to 19% from the previous 19.6%.    

The implementation of health reforms also saw 470,000 natural births in the country, all free of charge.

 No Force

Referring to the concern of pregnant women on “forced” natural delivery in state hospitals, he assured them that no state or private hospital can impose natural delivery. “The opinion of both doctor and patient is important to determine the type of delivery.”

However, hospitals can check cesarean surgeries by raising awareness and knowledge of mothers-to-be about the risks, and improve conditions in delivery rooms to encourage women to give birth naturally without fear.

He said sometimes hospitals’ failure to comply with high standards of natural birth can increase the rate of ‘c’ births.

Therefore, improving standards for natural birth is on the ministry’s agenda.

Hashemi also said, “This year, 365 ‘labor without pain’ centers are being established across the country. At these specialized units, husbands can be beside their spouses during delivery.”