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Deaths from C-sections 50 times higher in Africa than developed countries—report

THE number of mothers who die after a caesarean section in Africa is as much as 50 times higher than in developed countries, according to findings of an observational study published on the Lancet Global Health journal.

The study was carried out in 183 hospitals across 22 African countries including, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, South-Africa, Niger, Namibia, The Gambia, Mali, Kenya and Uganda.

The new observational study was the largest to track maternal mortality and complications during birth for women in Africa, with almost 3,800 women who had either a planned or emergency C-section across 22 countries.

The result indicated that one in 200 women dies during or soon after a C-section, while about 6 women in every 1000 died following C-section operations, compared to 0.1 deaths in the in the United Kingdom.

“Maternal mortality after caesarean delivery in Africa is 50 times higher than that of high-income countries,” part of the report read.

Bleeding during or after the operation was the most common severe complications experienced by African women. About 136 women of 3,612  had this complication in the study.

Apart from maternal death, the study also found out that neonatal mortality (the death of an infant occurring between 0-27 days) was 44 per 1000 births, adding that nearly one in 20 babies will die in the early neonatal period (that is death occurring between 0-7 days). The study indicated that the neonatal mortality rate in Africa approximately doubles the global average.

The global average neonatal mortality rate for all deliveries in 2016, was 19 per 1000 deliveries, with sub-Saharan Africa at 28 per 1000 deliveries. But the study shows that it is 44 per 1000 deliveries.

However, the report is not calling for less of caesarean sections in Africa, but call for more access to the operations in Africa though it highlights an urgent need to improve the safety of these operations in the continent.

“Paradoxically, while many countries are aiming to reduce the caesarean delivery rate, increasing the rate of caesarean delivery remains a priority in Africa,” Part of the findings read.

Nearly 80 per cent of the operations were classed as emergency surgery, with mothers already at high risk of a complication, while caesareans account for just 3.5 per cent of deliveries across sub-Saharan Africa.

“Improving access to surgery might allow patients to present earlier and prevent complications and deaths,” the report outlined.

It added that improvement must occur in parallel with programmes aimed at improving patient safety during caesarean delivery.

“Improvement of C-section surgical outcomes could substantially improve both maternal and neonatal mortality, which would lead to key global health gains,” Bruce Biccard, lead author of the study and professor at the University of Cape Town also said on Telegraph.

“Our findings could potentially inform interventions to improve the safety of C-sections for both mother and baby.”

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