Skip to main content

Global caesarean delivery rates in an era of controversy

Global caesarean delivery rates in an era of controversy

“While many women do have medically necessary reasons for undergoing caesarean surgery, this study shows the importance of empowering women through support and education so they can understand the consequences of surgery,” says Dr. Lori Stetz, Senior Medical Director, Aetna International.

In this white paper, published in April 2017, Aetna International examines the acceptable rate of caesarean deliveries around the world in light of an upswing in caesarean delivery rates in the last decade. Reviewing the World Health Organization (WHO) figure of between 10 and 15 percent, and a figure reached in a recent article by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) of 19 percent, we conclude that there is no definitive optimal rate. Drawing on analysis of our membership population in Dubai, which showed a 44 percent caesarean delivery rate in 2015, Aetna International proposes that efforts should instead focus on medical education, malpractice reform, shifting to a value-based care payment model and increasing access to evidence-backed information so women can make informed decisions.

Stetz concludes, “If women understand the pros and cons of caesarean deliveries, they can challenge the notion that caesareans are safer by default. Ultimately, they will make the right decision for their body, their baby and their family, but they will also understand how their choice fits into the wider health care system and the population in which they live.”

About the author

As Senior Medical Director for Aetna International, Dr. Lori Stetz, MPH, provides guidance, support, and medical leadership for all care management activities around the globe. Lori drives medical policy, and actively participates in strategic planning and program and product development in concurrence with changing markets and technologies. Lori also manages Aetna International’s emergency evacuation program, helping to ensure appropriate health care delivery for our members around the globe.

Aetna® is a trademark of Aetna Inc. and is protected throughout the world by trademark registrations and treaties.


We use cookies to give you the best possible online experience. See our cookie policy for more information on how we use cookies and how you can manage them. If you continue to use this website, you are consenting to our policy and for your web browser to receive cookies from our website.