Money-spinning Caesarian deliveries rise by 65 per cent in India's private clinics

One in every five deliveries in India is by Caesarian section, a procedure that a WHO report criticises as usually being unnecessary, and raises the the risk of complications and death for the mother.

A worldwide WHO survey on maternal and perinatal health showed a 27 per cent rise in the incidence of Caesarian deliveries in nine Asian countries, including India, China, Japan, Nepal and Sri Lanka, in 2007–08.

Although only 18 per cent of births in India are by Caesarian section (as compared to 46 per cent in China, the highest rate of any country in the study), the disturbing finding of the report is that the incidence of Caesarian sections has risen from five per cent to just under 65 per cent in many private hospitals located in places like Delhi and Mumbai.

After analysing 107,950 births (24,000 of which were from the Indian states of Delhi, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh), WHO found that Caesarian deliveries in the nine countries studied have surpassed the recommended level of 15 per cent, and that the cause for this increase is that such deliveries are financially more beneficial for doctors and nurisng homes, than vaginal deliveries.

Health experts quoted in the WHO report stated that "mothers should only get a C-section when there is a need for it, as it increases risk of maternal death, infant death, admission into an intensive care unit, blood transfusion and hysterectomy as compared to spontaneous vaginal delivery.

"But these risks have not necessarily been absorbed into medical culture because in two-thirds of the hospitals, which took part in the survey, the institution had carried out Caesarian to earn more money, as it costs more that the normal delivery; for example, in India, it is nearly Rs 20,000 costlier."