Births by Caesarean Section
What does it mean ?
This indicator shows the number of births by caesarean section relative to all births. Birth by caesarean section requires specialist health worker skills, an operating theatre and availability of specific drugs and medical products.
Why does it matter ?
All pregnancies are associated with risk and when medically justified, a caesarean section can prevent maternal and perinatal mortality and morbidity. However, because any surgery carries risk of complications, caesarean sections should not be performed unless it is medically required. According to the World Health Organisation, about 10-15 % of all births require delivery by caesarean section. As such, caesarean section rates lower than 10% indicates under-use and caesarean section rates over 15 % indicate over-use. Because birth by caesarean section requires specialist medical skills and health services, this indicators is sometimes used as a proxy indicator to measure the availability of quality of maternal health services in countries where data from health information systems and health facility surveys are limited.
How is it collected ?
Data on the percent of birth by caesarean section is usually derived from large scale, nationally representative surveys such as Demographic and Health (DHS) and Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys (MICS), other national surveys. DHS/ MICS are household surveys where women are asked if they have given birth (usually in the last three or five years) and the circumstances surrounding the birth including if they had a caesarean section.
"The Increasing Trend in Caesarean Section Rates: Global, Regional and National Estimates: 1990-2014" Betrán, A., et al. PLoS One. 2016; 11(2): http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4743929/