Cyprus will launch a national campaign to try to reduce its high level of caesarean sections, Health Minister George Pamborides said on Monday.
The issue will be discussed later this the week in a House health committee, and the campaign has the support of First Lady Andri Anastasiades and various associations of health professionals.
Non-governmental organisation Birth Forward said only one in three women in Cyprus choose a natural birth, meaning the country has the highest number of caesarean sections in the world. It said World Health Organisation guidelines state that caesarean sections should not account for more than 15 per cent of total births.
“We hope that we will see soon a substantial change in perinatal culture in Cyprus. We believe that this change will come from two directions,” said Birth Forward Spokeswoman Ioli Orphanide. “On the one hand, by sensitised parents, who, armed with scientifically based information will claim the type of birth they want, and, on the other, by the state, which clearly recognises the problem and the need to address it through coordinated efforts among stakeholders.”
Pamboridis said that caesarean sections are more frequent among women over 35, and in cases where the mother conceived through In vitro fertilisation.
According to the president of Birth Forward, Dr Eline Pedersen, there is medicalisation of childbirth in Cyprus at a time when both scientific evidence and international medical guidelines demonstrate that natural birth is a natural and safe option for most women.
Caesarean sections, she said, incur heavy financial costs for families and the state, but also carry serious health risks for both the mother and child.
Birth Forward has already created groups that offer psychological support to women who want to discuss their childbirth options, and it is also aiming to reach out to more women through its Caesarean Awareness Month campaign throughout April.
For more information on the campaign: www.birthforward.com/kaisariki