C-sections dominate delivery business, fear of commercial exploitation looms
Chandigarh tops the list with 98.35% caesarian deliveries, followed by Kanpur (75.98%) and Nagpur (71.84%)india Updated: Aug 05, 2017 07:48 IST
Private hospitals in India are recording a quantum jump in caesarian or C-section deliveries, triggering fears of commercial exploitation of the surgery that the World Health Organization recommends only for emergencies.
Union health minister JP Nadda said in the Lok Sabha on Friday that during 2016-17 one in two babies were delivered through the C-section in private hospitals that has signed up with the Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS).
Of 31,296 deliveries since last year, 17,450 were C-section. That means 55.75% of newborns were surgically brought to this world from their mother’s womb.
“The recent data reflect a grim trend. We know the numbers are high but it is a multi-factorial problem. We were looking at the global scenario and realised that the numbers are quite high in developed countries,” said Dinesh Chandra Joshi, the director of CGHS in the health ministry.
The figures don’t mirror the entire picture as many private hospitals are not bound contractually with the scheme, which provides medical care to central government employees, pensioners and their dependents.
The available data put Chandigarh as the caesarian hotspot with 98.35% surgical deliveries in the past year. It is followed by Kanpur and Nagpur with 75.98% and 71.84%.
New Delhi ranks fifth with 67.83% C-section deliveries.
In the past decade, C-section deliveries in private hospitals spiraled from 27.7% in 2005-06 to 40.9% in 2015-16, the latest National Family Health Survey (NFHS)-4 shows.
But government hospitals account for 11.9%, which is within the WHO guideline.
The WHO says C-sections should not be more than 10% to 15% of total deliveries and must be performed only in emergency cases.
According to Joshi, the rich and affluent are said to prefer surgery as such deliveries can be planned and they save time and cut labour pain.
But “there is also a prominent commercial angle to the problem. It is more profitable to have a C-section done than to perform a normal delivery”, the CGHS director said.
Gynaecologists in private hospitals denied turning C-section into a business.
“I would say 20% of pregnant women requested for a surgery because they wanted the delivery to happen on a particular date and time,” said Anuradha Kapur, the head of obstetrics and gynaecology in south Delhi’s Max Hospital.
“In fact, mother’s request is seen as the fifth common indication for caesarean section after foetal distress, non-progressive labour, excessive bleeding and the baby having pooped inside.”
The city’s Moolchand Hospital charges “the same amount for both types of deliveries”, according to Bandana Sodhi, the senior consultant with its department of gynaecology and obstetrics.
“So the question of doing caesareans to inflate bills doesn’t arise,” she said.