Kenya: Let’s end unsafe abortion leading to death

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Updated Thursday, August 11th 2016 02:45pm
Standard Digital News, Kenya

Author: Okun Oliech

Abortion is a process of ending a pregnancy and is also referred to as termination of pregnancy. It is estimated that 1 in 3 women in the world practice abortion.

There are two types of abortion; safe abortion is the termination of pregnancy by a well-trained, recognized, professional and licensed person/doctor at a medical facility while unsafe abortion is the termination of pregnancy by unskilled person or in an environment that does not conform to minimal medical standards.

It is estimated that 42 million women and young girls worldwide with unintended pregnancy choose to have abortions and half of all these abortions are unsafe. Furthermore 68,000 women [sic - it's 47,000] die of unsafe abortion annually in the world making unsafe abortion as one of the leading causes of maternal deaths. Most of these deaths occur in sub-Sahara Africa Kenya included. Moreover, according to the World Health Organization, every 9 minutes in a developing country, a woman will die due to complications arising from unsafe abortion.

In Kenya some of the unsafe abortion methods include drinking toxic fluids such as detergents, inserting sticks and hangers in the vagina or cervix and inserting inappropriate medication in the vagina. Quacks also perform unhygienic abortion hence causing infection in the womb.

Restrictive laws against abortion and lack of access to contraception services and information are some of the factors that have contributed to the high cases of unsafe abortion. In Kenya Abortion is not permitted unless, in the opinion of a trained health professional, there is need for emergency treatment, or the life or health of the mother is in danger, or if permitted by any other written law (Article 26 of the Kenya constitution). Furthermore 70% of all pregnancies in Kenya occur to women who are not using any form of contraception.

If we are to achieve the sustainable development goal number 3 which recommends ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for all at all ages, then we must end unsafe abortion. Unsafe abortion is easiest preventable cause of maternal deaths.

Preventing unintended pregnancies should be a priority for Kenya if we are to end cases of unsafe abortion. This can be done through both the national and county governments investing more in comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services and information. When people have access to correct, accurate, affordable and quality sexual and reproductive health information and services, they are more likely to delay their first pregnancy. Also providing women with better access to affordable and quality safe abortion services can help reduce maternal deaths caused by unsafe abortion.

Amending laws that are against abortion can also help reduce abortion mortality. By amending the law to only allow skilled practitioners to practice safe abortion services will discourage people from going to quacks.

Source: Standard Digital News