Objectives: To describe the prevalence and determinants of births by caesarean section in private and public health facilities in underserved communities in South Asia. Design: Cross-sectional study. Setting: 81 community-based geographical clusters in four locations in Bangladesh, India and Nepal (three rural, one urban). Participants: 45 327 births occurring in the study areas between 2005 and 2012. Outcome measures: Proportion of caesarean section deliveries by location and type of facility; determinants of caesarean section delivery by location. Results: Institutional delivery rates varied widely between settings, from 21% in rural India to 90% in urban India. The proportion of private and charitable facility births delivered by caesarean section was 73% in Bangladesh, 30% in rural Nepal, 18% in urban India and 5% in rural India. The odds of caesarean section were greater in private and charitable health facilities than in public facilities in three of four study locations, even when adjusted for pregnancy and delivery characteristics, maternal characteristics and year of delivery (Bangladesh: adjusted OR (AOR) 5.91, 95% CI 5.15 to 6.78; Nepal: AOR 2.37, 95% CI 1.62 to 3.44; urban India: AOR 1.22, 95% CI 1.09 to 1.38). We found that highly educated women were particularly likely to deliver by caesarean in private facilities in urban India (AOR 2.10; 95% CI 1.61 to 2.75) and also in rural Bangladesh (AOR 11.09, 95% CI 6.28 to 19.57). Conclusions: Our results lend support to the hypothesis that increased caesarean section rates in these South Asian countries may be driven in part by the private sector. They also suggest that preferences for caesarean delivery may be higher among highly educated women, and that individual-level and provider-level factors interact in driving caesarean rates higher. Rates of caesarean section in the private sector, and their maternal and neonatal health outcomes, require close monitoring.

dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2014-005982, hdl.handle.net/1765/84516
BMJ Open
Department of Public Health

Neuman, M, Alcock, G, Azad, K, Kuddus, A, Osrin, D, Shah More, N, … Prost, A. (2014). Prevalence and determinants of caesarean section in private and public health facilities in underserved South Asian communities: Cross-sectional analysis of data from Bangladesh, India and Nepal. BMJ Open, 4(12). doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2014-005982