By Peter Stevenson
CAESAREAN sections account for 60 per cent of births in private clinics and hospitals and 45 per cent of births in state-run hospitals according to the health ministry.
The House Health Committee yesterday asked that measures be created to create a culture for natural births by informing women of the advantages, and allowing C-sections only for medical reasons.
Speaking after the meeting, the committee’s acting-chairman Zacharias Zachariou said that Cyprus had a high percentage (45 per cent) of C-sections compared to the rest of the world’s 25 to 30 per cent).
He added that the trend was troubling and efforts were being made in cooperation with the health ministry and the medical association to change peoples’ mentality and create a new way of thinking which promotes natural birth. Zachariou said that people will need to get it into their heads that C-sections will only take place for medical reasons.
He said the committee wanted to believe that C-sections were not being carried out for financial gain but rather a wrong way of thinking and lack of information.
Both the medical association and the health ministry committed to reducing the number of C-sections to be closer to international levels.
Zachariou said the committee had not looked at private clinics’ accounts and preferred to believe that the increased number of women opting for a C-section was down to their own preference due to the mentality in Cyprus that most births are done that way.
The acting-chairman said that the committee also discussed the upward trend that existed in the past where a large number of C-sections were carried out over weekends so doctors could get paid for working overtime. He said this was excused by hospitals by saying there were not enough operating tables to cover gynaecological operating needs but following a previous committee meeting the matter was resolved.
Zachariou added that he believes a lesson must be included at school which will explain the benefits of natural birth so it can become embedded into children’s mentality. The committee is discussing with insurance companies the possibility of introducing incentives to women who give birth naturally.
AKEL MP Stella Misiaouli said that Eurostat indicated that Cyprus is one of the leaders in Europe when it comes to the percentage of C-sections.
“It is down to a lack of information and a mentality which exists in pregnant women,” she said, adding “it has been proven that a large number of women ask to undergo C-sections themselves”.
She said that it is also the doctor’s responsibility to inform and advise pregnant women to give birth naturally.
Misiaouli added that “if the information is not spread, especially to high-school pupils, underlining the advantages of natural birth instead of C-sections then people will not be convinced”.
She said that doctors are trained to know how to deal with pregnant women to avoid doing a C-section.
“The doctor, by developing trust with the pregnant woman has the ability to convince her to avoid a C-section as long as there is medical evidence,” she said.
DIKO MP, Athena Kyriakidou said that women opt to have a C-section because they are imitating their social environment, or to avoid the pains of birth. She said a good solution would be for clinics and hospitals to give lessons about pain-free births.