Removing barriers to access of safe abortion through self-management in Zambia

Recent international recommendations provided by the WHO (updated 2022 WHO Abortion Care Guidelines), state that in early pregnancy, medical abortion can be self-managed.

30 November 2023

Enabling the option for self-managed abortion (SMA) can significantly improve access to safe, timely, affordable and person-centred abortion care. FIGO have been exploring different ways to support member societies to advocate for and operationalize SMA in their countries, as part of their work towards improving access to safe abortion services.

As part of this drive, FIGO have partnered with the Zambia Association of Gynaecologists and Obstetricians (ZAGO) to carry out a project aimed at mainstreaming self-managed abortion as an option for women and girls in Zambia. 


Chipata Teens Abusing Cassava Leaves For Abortion

April 16, 2022
By Samuel Khwawe

Some Chipata residents have bemoaned persistent use of Cassava leaves, locally known as Katapa, to terminate pregnancies.

Abigail Sambo of an area called Feni reveals to Diamond News that most young people continue to indulge in unprotected sex and when girls fall pregnant, they opt to abort using Cassava leaves that are inserted in the cervix, a practice that she says has led to devastating consequences like death that she has witnessed so far.

Sambo says the vice is often perpetuated by adults that perform the unsafe methods on girls and young women and the vicious cycle has persisted in poor communities where many downplay awareness messages on unsafe abortion.

She made the comments during a sensitization meeting on Sexual Reproductive Health Rights and Social Accountability held by the Youth Development Foundation (YDF).- Diamond TV


Zambia – Bitter Brew: Pandemic Spurs Unsafe Abortions

The coronavirus has exacerbated the hurdles faced by Zambian women with unwanted pregnancies.

By Prudence Phiri
February 27, 2022

RUFUNSA, ZAMBIA — The concoction was dark and sludgy, a blend of berries, roots and leaves. The moon serving as a beacon, Chikondi carried the mixture back to her mud-brick hut in a white, 2-liter container and slid it under her bed. She had arranged to be alone that night, sending her two daughters, ages 9 and 12, to their grandmother’s under the pretext of helping with fieldwork. At cockcrow, she would take her first sip.

Chikondi was three months pregnant with a baby she could not afford. The 29-year-old lives in Rufunsa, a small village east of Lusaka, the capital, amid an expanse of maize fields and mud homes with grass-thatched roofs. Her boyfriend of three years was unemployed and not ready to be a father. She had long supported her girls with an assortment of farming jobs, such as preparing fields and planting crops, but the coronavirus pandemic had made even those scarce.


Zambia – 40% maternal admissions to L/stone hospital abortion related – Chaambwa

February 26, 2022
By Edwin Mbulo in Livingstone

FORTY per cent of maternal admissions to the
Livingstone Hospital are abortion related, says a gynaecolologists Herdley

And Dr Chaambwa, a lecturer at Lusaka’s Apex University, says a woman can
become pregnant eight days soon after an abortion.


Looking back on the successes of the International Safe Abortion Day 2021

10 December 2021
FIGO Advocating for Safe Abortion Project

For International Safe Abortion Day (ISAD), marked on 28 September, the 10 national member societies FIGO supports through its Advocating for Safe Abortion Project developed educational activities and awareness-raising campaigns in their countries and communities.

“International Safe Abortion Day is about making what is often ignored – the preventable pandemic of unsafe abortions -  visible. As a committed health care community we come together to demonstrate what solutions must be implemented. Together with our partners, we raise our voices to dismantle abortion-related stigma which is the enemy of women/girls’ right to claim access to safe abortion – time-sensitive essential health care.  This year from Latin America to Africa we are proud to share the efforts of our OBGYN member societies, and all that they are doing to stand up for women/girls’ health care and human rights.”
– Jessica Morris, Senior Project Manager, Advocating for Safe Abortion Project, FIGO


Unsafe abortions still high in Zambia

November 20, 2021

A Study by the Zambia Association of Gynecologists and Obstetricians (ZAGO) has revealed that Zambia records a relatively high rate of unsafe abortions which stands at 7 per cent per annum.

The study has also revealed that Copperbelt Province has a higher rate of 14 per cent which is twice higher than the national rate.


Kitwe leading in number of unsafe abortions – Dr Macha

By Charles Tembo
September 15, 2021

KITWE district is leading in the number of unsafe abortions, according to the Zambia Association of Gynecologists and Obstetrician.

ZAGO president Swebby Macha said seven per cent of all maternal deaths in Zambia are due to unsafe abortions.


Legal but Stringent: Abortions in Zambia

September 10, 2021
By Marie-Simone Kadurira, safe2choose

Like many countries in Southern and East Africa, abortion legality in the context of Zambia is quite stringent. Unlike many of its neighbouring countries, such as Zimbabwe and Angola, Zambia has a more liberal abortion legislation. It also has a a unique stipulation [1]  that allows for abortion upon request. As is evident in many countries where abortion upon request is allowed, access to the service is affected by much more than legislation. Lack of healthcare facilities that offer this service as well as stigma equally contribute to the inability to undergo safe abortions for many women. In this blog, we hope to highlight the legislative framework under which abortions in Zambia exist as well as shed light on the ways in which one can access the service.


Restrictive Laws Don’t Prevent Abortion

With new restrictions on abortion headed to the Supreme Court, many are wondering what it will mean for women if Roe v. Wade is overturned. We looked to other countries for answers.


Consider this: Every day around the world some 96,000 women risk their lives to an unsafe abortion, seeking to end an unintended pregnancy. Millions of women face complications following an unsafe abortion and at least 22,000 die every year. This latest push to overturn Roe v. Wade aims to deny women autonomous control over their own bodies and presages a return to the days before Roe, in the U.S. when the death rate due to illegal abortion among women of color was 12 times that of white women. 

MSI Reproductive Choices works in many
countries where abortion is heavily restricted and we are called on daily to
provide life-saving post-abortion care to women and girls who tried to end an
unwanted pregnancy themselves. Faith Pyentim, a midwife from Nigeria, described
one teenage girl who sought help after a desperate attempt to end an unintended
pregnancy. “There was a bad smell, so we knew there was infection. She was 17
then, unmarried with a child at home already.”