The State government has set up a four-member committee to draft guidelines for doctors handling births to promote normal deliveries and to reduce the number of C-sections.

Health Minister P.K. Sreemathy made this announcement after holding a meeting here on Tuesday with senior gynaecologists from major government hospitals handling deliveries.

The meeting had been held following the many C-sections conducted in just three days at the Cherthala taluk hospital, allegedly even on women who did not require them.

The committee has Additional Director of Health Services (Family Welfare) P.K. Jameela, as its convener. The members are C. Nirmala, Head of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, SAT Hospital, here; Betty Jose, Chief Consultant Gynaecologist at Women and Children's Hospital, Thycaud, here; the Additional Director of Health Services; and District Medical Officer N. Sreedhar.

The committee's mandate will be to form a set of guidelines and checklists to be mandatorily followed before a C-section is performed. It will look at the reasons for the increasing rate of C-sections and find solutions to promote normal (vaginal) deliveries.

The incident at the Cherthala hospital should be seen as different from the high C-section rate in Kerala, a senior Health Department official who attended the meeting said.

“There are various reasons for the increasing rate of C-sections in the State. But what happened at Cherthala was not just a violation of all professional ethics; it should also be seen a gross human-rights violation. C-sections were performed on women whose expected dates of delivery were May 10 and beyond — as early as two weeks — when there was no other medical indication,” she said.

Instead of performing early C-sections, doctors could have made arrangements for referring the women to the Government Medical College Hospital in Alappuzha, if they were worried about the women going into labour during the holidays when hospital staff would be scarce, it was pointed out.