China’s National Health Commission is to launch a pilot project aimed at getting more women to give birth naturally using painkillers, to reduce the prevalence of C-sections.
The plan was announced on Nov 20, with the pilot set to start early next year and run through 2020, when a nationwide campaign is expected to be rolled out.
Many women in China still face the prospect of going through child birth with no pain relief, largely due to a shortage in trained anesthetists, experts say.
This has resulted in a high proportion insisting on having a C-section, a riskier surgical procedure that can have long-term health implications. About 35 percent of babies are born in China through C-section, far higher than the internationally recommended standard of under 15 percent.
Hospitals included in the pilot will receive guidelines on pain relief for mothers — who will be offered spinal anesthesia, epidural anesthesia, or a combination of the two — and instructions on how to better train their medical workers, the commission said.
Local health authorities will also step up regulation, improve patients’ comfort and hospitals’ emergency protocols, and reduce the child birth mortality rate, it added.
The commission said a list of hospitals taking part in the pilot will be released in January after consultations with provincial health authorities.