The Council of Ministers on Wednesday approved a plan to promote natural childbirth and to reduce premature births in Cyprus.

A statement released by the health ministry said that the plan will serve as a significant tool in addressing both subjects, “encompassing four action axes covering topics related to the healthcare system, education of healthcare professionals, public awareness and research.”

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), caesarean section birth rates have been increasing globally over the past decades, with Cyprus ranked as one of the countries with the highest rates of caesarean births, as well as high rates of prematurity.

“The implementation of the plan will promote coordinated action by all relevant bodies to reduce unnecessary caesarean birth rates and premature births under the overall coordination of the health ministry,” the statement continued.

In order to monitor the implementation of the plan, a supervising committee will also be established. It will include representatives of the health ministry, the Health Insurance Organisation (HIO), the Pancyprian Medical Association, the Pancyprian Association of Nurses and Midwives and the Patients’ Association (Osak).

“The committee will oversee the implementation of the plan, evaluate it, and submit recommendations to the health ministry,” the statement said.