Mrunal Manmay Dash

The World Health Organisation’s (WHO’s) recommended percentage of caesarean section (c-section) deliveries is 15 percent, while in Odisha, the rate hovers at 70 percent, which has set the alarm bells ringing.

As it turns out, c-sections have become the go-to option for many expecting mothers.

As per an RTI query and National Family Health Survey (NFHS 2019-21) report, Odisha’s c-section rate at private hospitals is more than 70 percent which is around five times more than WHO recommended ratio and way more than the national ratio.

As per reports, a total of 29,740 children were born in both government and private hospitals in Jagatsinghpur in the last three years. Out of that, 12,089 were c-section deliveries, which is around 40 percent of the total. But when it comes to private hospitals, the rise is substantial. As per reports, the same district in the last three years saw 10,840 deliveries, out of which 8,174 were c-sections taking the percentage to 75.

Experts say c-sections should be considered only in cases of complications otherwise normal deliveries should be the norm for mothers. That is why WHO has kept the recommended percentage of c-sections at 15 percent.

“When pregnant women visit private hospitals they get the caesarean section free of cost under Biju Swasthya Kalyan Yojana. They are fed the perception that the surgery is a good thing and the family would be happy because it will be completed in no time and without pain. Moreover, fear is being instilled in them against normal delivery,” said Bijaylaxmi Routray, Secretary of an NGO, Sahajoga.

some blame the doctors who do not motivate the mothers enough to opt for normal delivery, some even blame the current fast-paced lifestyle for that.

Asked about the startling numbers in private hospitals, gynaecologist Alakta Das said, “We are advising for caesarean section because the mothers nowadays are more averse to normal deliveries. They mainly fear the pain associated with normal delivery.”

“They are getting anxious to deliver the baby and want that out as soon as possible and do not wish to bear the pain for 18 hours,” she added.

Dr Smita Satpathy, an obstetrics & gynaecology specialist in a private hospital said, “The women are demanding to get the surgery done due to very high pain sensitivity in them. In fact, in some cases, there are women who tell us to get the c-section done mid-way into normal delivery when they can’t bear the pain.”

Meanwhile, the numbers are high enough to warrant concern from experts as well as the government, which said, it is now conducting caesarean audits in hospitals.

Speaking about the caesarean audit, Health & Family Welfare Director, Bijay Panigrahi said, “A caesarean audit is done to ascertain whether it was necessary for the doctor to conduct a c-section on a pregnant woman. The audit is currently going on in government and private hospitals. I think this will help bring the number down and keep it near the National figures.”

As per the NFHS, there were 21.5 percent and 21.6 percent c-section deliveries in India and Odisha, respectively in 2020-21. However, the percentage of c-sections in private hospitals during the same period was as high as 47.4 and 70.7 percent in India and Odisha, respectively.

(Reported By Laxminarayan Kanungo, OTV)