Rising c-sections in Cameroon cause for concern

Anadolu Agency | Doctors say surgical method of giving birth are life-saving for mother and baby

The rising number of cesarean deliveries in Cameroon has become a cause of concern for people who say hospitals are taking advantage of vulnerable pregnant women.

The prevalence of cesarean deliveries, also referred to as c-sections, has increased progressively from 3.4% before 2000, to 9.8% between 2000 and 2009, and 14.7% from 2010 to 2019, according to a survey titled, Prevalence, Indications and Neonatal Complications of Caesarean Deliveries in Cameroon.

The global average of c-sections is 9.9%, the survey stated.

Doctors, however, say the surgical procedure to deliver a baby through incisions in the abdomen and uterus is life-saving for mother and baby.

In private clinics, the cost of a c-section could exceed $470, a luxury in the Central African nation where the poverty rate is at 40%.

“If my wife gets pregnant now, I will reserve at least $500 for her operation and good care because there is more and more talk of c-sections in hospitals. I have already put this in mind and I don’t doubt it because I see how it is going around me,” said Fabrice Fotso, a shopkeeper in Douala, the economic capital.

Clarisse Modi, a Cameroonian office secretary in the same city, gave birth to her second child, a boy, three years ago by c-section.

She says this method of delivery “is often unnecessary for the mother but lucrative for the doctors.”

Her first delivery was also by c-section and she thinks she could and wanted to give vaginal birth.

Speaking on condition of anonymity like most of the medical staff approached by Anadolu Agency, a doctor with about 20 years of experience said sometimes staff at private clinics push women to go for c-section when it is not a medical necessity.

“I am a doctor and I witness many things that are not said. Indeed some hospitals do it. But it is mostly private clinics … This is an unfortunate but very real situation,” she said.

Unhealthy pregnancy lifestyle

A nurse at a private clinic denied that c-sections are on the rise because doctors want to make more money.

“Today women have also become very weak and are afraid of the pain of childbirth. They voluntarily ask for a c-section to avoid the pain,” she said.

Another nurse shared the same opinion.

She said women in Cameroon do not adopt a healthy lifestyle during their pregnancies.

“They eat anything. They self-medicate. They wrongly consume all sorts of potions that they think are necessary for the development of their pregnancies. They don’t go to the doctor regularly and don’t honestly inform the doctors about how they behave with their pregnancies. They arrive on the day of delivery with a host of complications that reflect poor pregnancy monitoring, and their only outcome is a cesarean section,” she said.

Many pregnant women also voluntarily ask for a c-section because they are afraid of labor pain.
Doctors say that c-sections limit the number of deliveries of women to less than four as well as halves the deliveries by vaginal route.

“A scarred uterus is a handicap and cannot function like a normal uterus. Apart from this fact, a well performed cesarean section does not entail any risk for the life of the woman or the child,” a midwife said.

Nevertheless, she believes that there is a strong need to sensitize women in Cameroon on the importance of regular medical monitoring and a healthy lifestyle during pregnancy.???????

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