Hyderabad: Looking to curb a flood of caesarean section (c-sec) or surgical deliveries, a district in Telangana has made a short film to build awareness against blindly opting for the procedure, besides working on a musical remedy as well.
The film, made by and starring employees of the Rajanna-Sircilla administration, is three minutes long and titled ‘Caesarean la ku kattheredham (loosely translated to Let’s cut down on Caesarean deliveries)’.
It is currently in the post-production phase, and is expected to be released by the end of this week, district public relations officer M. Dasharatham said.
C-Sec deliveries are a largely safe procedure that doctors are supposed to prescribe to avoid certain complications during labour.
The WHO says that, “when medically justified, a caesarean section can effectively prevent maternal and perinatal mortality and morbidity”.
However, it adds, as with any surgery, “caesarean sections are associated with short- and long-term risk which can extend many years beyond the current delivery and affect the health of the woman, her child, and future pregnancies”.
“These risks are higher in women with limited access to comprehensive obstetric care,” it says.
According to a study by the Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad, the procedure is associated with certain risks for newborns, such as delayed breastfeeding, lower birth weight, respiratory morbidities and increased rate of hospitalisation.
Experts blame the rise in c-sections on patients opting for it to avoid the pain associated with natural births, and the financial incentives for private hospitals — a longer stay after surgery means a bigger bill.
However, the trend in Rajanna-Sircilla and other parts of Telangana is believed to be fuelled at least in part by superstition, to ensure a child’s birth at a time prescribed by priests.
Superstition was found to be among the factors driving up c-sections in Karimnagar, according to a survey done by the local administration earlier this year in a bid to tackle the high number of surgical deliveries in the district.
“The phenomenon is similar in most districts, superstitions play a key role in pushing up the number of C-sections,” said Rajanna-Sircilla district medical and health officer Suman Rao.
“In Sircilla too, the belief that babies being born at a certain time will do good to the family is very prevalent. We have been having constant meetings with doctors and told them to not go for c-sections unless unavoidable.”
According to Rao, as of March, about 97 per cent of deliveries across private hospitals and nursing homes in Rajanna-Sircilla were C-sections.
The number, she said, has since dropped to 87 per cent, following review meetings organised by the district administration with the doctors at these hospitals.
In a 2021 report on district hospitals across the country, federal think tank NITI Aayog highlighted that Telangana has the second-highest rate of surgical deliveries in the country — 53.51 per cent — more than double the national average of 20.8 per cent.
Tamil Nadu had the highest number of c-section deliveries in the country, according to the report.
Over the past few weeks, the issue has also been taken up by Telangana Health Minister Harish Rao, who, in a series of meetings with district collectors and health officials, pulled up districts with high C-section births, said sources in the health department.
The minister, it is learnt, also asked district collectors to come up with action plans to cut down on surgical deliveries in their respective areas.
‘Staff turned actor, director, script-writer’
The Rajanna-Sircilla district’s film will focus on highlighting the benefits of natural birth and the side-effects of c-section deliveries for the mother and the baby.
“The idea came from the collector (Anuraag Jayanti). He advised us to make these short videos or documentaries because they have better reach and can be shared easily over WhatsApp and other platforms to reach people,” Dasharatham said.
The film has been made completely in-house. Employees from the district administration’s Information and Public Relations Department (IPR) and Department of Language and Culture have done the script-writing and shooting.
Eleven staff members doubled as actors, playing doctors, nursing staff and pregnant women, Dasharatham added.
The film, shot at a government-run hospital in the district, has been directed by IPR employee Dobbala Prakash, according to a statement released by the department Sunday.
The district administration is also working on songs to raise awareness about the potential ill-effects of c-sections. One of the songs talks about avoiding the “auspicious c-section times”, adding that the surgery may have a negative impact on the health of mother and child. Pamphlets are also being printed for distribution in villages and hospitals.
Artistes from the district’s culture department are, meanwhile, touring villages to perform and spread awareness on natural births, the IPR statement said.
(Edited by Poulomi Banerjee)