African Field Epidemiology Network, Kampala, Uganda.
Background: Cesarean section (CS) is an important intervention in complicated births when the safety of the mother or baby is compromised. Despite worldwide concerns about the overutilization of CS in recent years, many African women and their newborns still die because of limited or no access to CS services. We evaluated temporal and spatial trends in CS births in Uganda and modeled future trends to inform programming.
Methods: We performed secondary analysis of total births data from the Uganda National Health Management Information System (HMIS) reports during 2012-2016. We reviewed data from 3461 health facilities providing basic, essential obstetric and emergency obstetric care services in all 112 districts. We defined facility-based CS rate as the proportion of cesarean deliveries among total live births in facilities, and estimated the population-based CS rate using the total number of cesarean deliveries as a proportion of annual expected births (including facility-based and non-facility-based) for each district. We predicted CS rates for 2021 using Generalised Linear Models with Poisson family, Log link and Unbiased Sandwich Standard errors. We used cesarean deliveries as the dependent variable and calendar year as the independent variable.
Results: Cesarean delivery rates increased both at facility and population levels in Uganda. Overall, the CS rate for live births at facilities was 9.9%, increasing from 8.5% in 2012 to 11% in 2016. The overall population-based CS rate was 4.7%, and increased from 3.2 to 5.9% over the same period. Health Centre IV level facilities had the largest annual rate of increase in CS rate between 2012 and 2016. Among all 112 districts, 80 (72%) had a population CS rate below 5%, while 38 (34%) had a CS rate below 1% over the study period. Overall, Uganda's facility-based CS rate is projected to increase by 36% (PRR 1.36, 95% CI 1.35-1.36) in 2021 while the population-based CS rate is estimated to have doubled (PRR 2.12, 95% CI 2.11-2.12) from the baseline in 2016.
Conclusion: Cesarean deliveries are increasing in Uganda. Health center IVs saw the largest increases in CS, and while there was regional heterogeneity in changes in CS rates, utilization of CS services is inadequate in most districts. We recommend expansion of CS services to improve availability.
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