Global researchers pilot innovations to boost cesarean births in Africa

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Nairobi, Jan. 12, 2021 Maternal health in Africa received a boost on Tuesday as a team of international researchers announced the piloting of innovations to boost cesarean births in the continent.

The medical researchers said at a virtual briefing that the innovations to boost uptake of cesarean births would be rolled out in Ethiopia, Liberia, and South Africa amid the quest to reduce maternal and infant mortalities.

“We hope that increasing access to cesarean section (C-Section) for women experiencing complicated labor will boost maternal health outcomes in Africa,” said Jody Lori, a midwife and researcher.

Lori said that expanding access to safe delivery options in Liberia would focus on the creation of a digital communication platform to connect community health workers and expectant mothers.

“Pregnant mothers nearing labour will be trained on how to use online messaging services to communicate with midwives in rural clinics on a real-time basis to help expedite reporting of complications that warrant cesarean delivery,” said Lori.

She added that community education, research, training of health workers, and the upgrade of infrastructure in rural hospitals was crucial to facilitating safe deliveries in sub-Saharan Africa.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends that 15 per cent of deliveries in any given population should be carried out through cesarean section in order to minimise risks to mothers and their new-borns.

Tanya Doherty, a South African midwife said that a paltry 6 per cent of women in the sub-Saharan African region had access to cesarean births amid poverty, under-investments in modern healthcare facilities and cultural taboos.

“We can ensure that cesarean births are available to pregnant mothers experiencing complications if governments invest in training of midwives and modern theatres,” said Doherty.

She said that research conducted in South Africa indicated that blending of the public and private sector model of healthcare provision could be effective in addressing barriers in accessing safe deliveries.

“Pulling resources from public and private health facilities will help address staffing and infrastructure challenges that hamper access to cesarean births for women with complications during labor,” said Doherty.

Lee Pyne Mercier, a senior program officer at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation said that donors and philanthropies had scaled up support for innovations that promote safe births in Africa.

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