By: Natasha Archary
South Africa’s c-section rates is the highest in the world. In September, the Council for Medical Schemes (CMS) report showed the rate of c-section births doubled in the private sector compared to natural deliveries.
In 2018 76.8% of c-sections were reported at private hospitals in the country compared to 26.2% in public facilities.
The estimated cost of a c-section in SA is R42,000 and the council says the rate needs to come down to bring down healthcare costs. While the average cost of natural births are between R16,900 to R25,400 in the private sector.
Last year almost 77% of deliveries covered by medical aid schemes were c-sections.
The increase in c-section deliveries continues despite associated risks of infection, surgical and anaesthetic complications and potential risks for the baby.
C-sections can also reduce the production of breastmilk but is viewed as a life-saving birthing procedure.
However, the CMS says there are many “medically unnecessary” c-sections which needs to decrease to bring down the cost of maternal health. The council is calling for an investigation into alternative solutions to improve finances in maternity care.
The increase in c-sections is not isolated to SA alone. More countries have noted a similar trend in the procedure by almost 10%.
Concerns have been raised by the World Health Organisation (WHO) over what an appropriate c-section rate is and overall surgery costs.
WHO cites the high c-section rates to an increasing maternal age, high obesity rates and multiple pregnancies.