KAMPALA – The Ministry of Health has expressed concern over the high number of caesarean section deliveries, especially in private hospitals, wondering whether they are deliberately induced by hospital owners for financial gain.
Caesarean section, also known as C-section or caesarean delivery, is the use of surgery to deliver babies. It is often applied when it is deemed a vaginal delivery would put the baby’s or mother’s life at risk.
The concern was raised at the release of the Annual Health Sector Performance Report on Tuesday, which indicated that the average rate of C-sections in the general Hospitals increased to 28 per cent in the 2017/2018 from 25 per cent in the 2016/2018 financial year with Nakasero Hospital in Kampala recording the highest rate.
“The number of caesarian sections is very high and the question is; could it be for commercial purposes because you pay more than the normal deliveries? All these questions need to be answered,” said Dr Henry G. Mwebesa, the acting Director General Health services at the ministry.
According to the report, regional Referral Hospitals saw C-sections increased to 31.4 per cent in 2017/2018 financial year from 28 per cent in 2016/2017 financial year. Nsambya Hospital recorded the highest C-section rate followed by Lubaga Hospital.
The Financial Year 2016/17 report had indicated that Soroti and Nsambya hospitals had the highest C-section rates at 48 per cent followed by Lubaga (38 per cent) and Mengo (37 per cent). The lowest C-section rate was registered in Masaka Hospital at about 7 per cent.
The 2017/18 report also indicated that Mukono Town Council HC1V, St Paul HCIV, Mpigi HCIV, Rwekubo HCIV and Kyegegwa HC1V had the highest number of C-sections.
However, Dr Othiniel Musana, an obstetrician and gynaecologist at Nsambya Hospital, explained that the C-section cases are high due to the big number of mothers who report with delicate conditions.
“Risky pregnancy women are normally sent to Nsambya. Secondly, due to lifestyle changes, women tend to have bigger babies,” he adds.
Dr Musana said the hospital cannot put an expectant mother on C-section on the basis that she has requested for it if she has no observed risk of complication during her antenatal visits.
However, he says some for-profit private hospitals offer C-sections upon request by mothers.
“Private-for-profit health facilities perform C-sections even when they are not necessary but sometimes expectant mothers put doctors on pressure to have the procedure as an option for delivery,” he says.