Aastrika Foundation and key stakeholders address the pressing issues in the Indian maternal healthcare system at Bangalore International Centre
17 September 2022
Panellists discuss rising C-section rates across India, and the road to solutions
September 17, 2022, Bengaluru: Aastrika Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation working towards implementation of high quality, respectful maternity care, today, hosted an incumbent discussion on the rising number of c-section deliveries in India. The programme was hosted at the esteemed Bangalore International Centre. Titled ‘Too Much, Too Soon: India’s Rising C-section Rates and Potential Solutions’, this first of its kind event engaged critical stakeholders in both the public and private healthcare ecosystem.
With focus on the climbing c-section figures across the country, the event began with Dr. Janhavi Nilekani, Founder, Aastrika Foundation, presenting the data and key challenges for maternal healthcare in India. She laid emphasis on the need for data transparency on c-section rates and presented statistics from her year old venture, Aastrika Midwifery Centre. Dr. Pallavi Chandra, Obstetrician, Fernandez Foundation, followed, speaking about the need for collaborative care for expecting mothers. Dr. Pallavi gave insights on Fernandez’s midwifery model of care and also spoke at length about the unlearning and relearning she had to do as an obstetrician. A detailed insight into the establishment of midwifery and Midwifery-Led Care Units (MLCUs) in public healthcare facilities in Gujarat was then presented by Dr. Jayanti S. Ravi, IAS, Secretary Auroville Foundation.
Speaking at the event, Dr. Janhavi Nilekani said, “We are honoured to have the opportunity to contribute towards improving maternal and neonatal outcomes through our key initiatives to strengthen the healthcare system. We hope to raise awareness of the harms of over-intervention, and the rising incidence of (unnecessarily) induced labour, caesareans, and episiotomies, with the help of our esteemed panellists today. In Karnataka alone, c-section rates in the private sector were 40.3% in the 2015-2016 NFHS-4 Survey, and have risen to 52.5% in the 2019-2020 NFHS-5 Survey. Episiotomies have become the norm in India as 85% of first time mothers undergo an episiotomy despite WHO guidelines restricting the use of episiotomies to critical cases. Although 10-19% is the ideal population-level rate of caesareans, in states like Jammu & Kashmir, Telangana, and West Bengal, in the private sector in 2019-20, the incidence rates were greater than 80%.”
Post a detailed walk-through of the maternal health landscape and challenges across India, the event continued with a panel on ‘The Road to Solutions’ with expert discussants. Dr. Nachiket Mor, Visiting Scientist, Banyan Academy, Dr. Pallavi Chandra, and Dr. Janhavi Nilekani engaged in a session focusing on solutions to optimise the number of caesarean deliveries in the country. The seriousness of the rapid increase in c-section rates and solutions to curb the same across the country were highlighted in this brief, yet impactful panel discussion.
Further to the panel discussion, Aastrika Foundation launched an e-learning course in partnership with White Ribbon Alliance, India. The course titled “Implementing Respectful Maternity Care in Healthcare Facilities”, is hosted on Aastrika Sphere, a digital platform for capacity building of healthcare professionals. The course was launched in the esteemed presence of Dr. T. Dileep Kumar, President, Indian Nursing Council & Ex Nursing Advisor to the Government of India.