FIGO opinion paper: Drivers and solutions to the cesarean delivery epidemic with emphasis on the increasing rates in Africa and Southeastern Europe

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



International journal of gynaecology and obstetrics: the official organ of the International Federation of Gynaecology and Obstetrics


163 Suppl 2




Africa; LMICs; Southeastern Europe; cesarean delivery rate


Cesarean delivery rates are rapidly increasing in Southeastern Europe (to more than 60%), North Africa (with a rate as high as 72% in Egypt), and in urban areas in Southern Africa (a rate of over 50% in Lagos, Nigeria). Data on the background to these increases are scarce, but likely to include poor birthing facilities in general hospitals, convenience for the doctor, private medicine, fear of litigation, socioeconomic status, shortage of midwives and nurses, and disappearance of vaginal instrumental deliveries. Options to reverse cesarean delivery trends are discussed. In this context there is a need to be better informed about how women are being counseled regarding vaginal or cesarean delivery. The long-term consequences in subsequent pregnancies for mothers and children may well be largely ignored, while these risks are highest in LMICs where higher birth numbers are desired. FIGO has begun discussions with obstetric and gynecologic societies, healthcare bodies, and governments in several countries discussed in this article, to find ways to lower the cesarean delivery rate. The requests came from the countries themselves, which may prove beneficial in helping advance progress.


Prevention and Community Health