The World Health Organization and other United Nations agencies have long promoted monitoring of the (population-based) cesarean birth rate and have suggested that normal rates should fall between five and 15 percent. However, monitoring trends in the cesarean birth rate does not provide information as to why these cesareans are being performed. National and sub-national cesarean birth rates obscure enormous disparities in use of cesarean by socio-economic status of the woman and urban/rural residence. Many experts argue that more evidence is needed to establish and promote an internationally recognized classification system of indications for cesarean births as well as to better understand the role and selection of indicators to measure the under and over-use of cesarean birth.
The Role of the MHTF
Given increased recognition of the under and over-use of cesarean birth in low income countries, a working group of the Child Health Epidemiology Reference Group (CHERG) and the Maternal Health Task Force (MHTF) sponsored a one day meeting of researchers to explore the development of an expanded list of population and health facility-based indicators related to cesarean birth. The meeting consisted of presentations and discussions of indicators regarding cesarean birth from very low to high cesarean birth rate settings.