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One Million Unplanned Pregnancies, 405,000 Abortions Every Year In Tanzania Alone – A Wake Up Call For Africa

In 2008 the WHO estimated that 14% of all maternal deaths in Africa were due to unsafe abortion

An abortion clinic poster in South Africa - pinned near a cemetery! (Photo/Mårten Janson/Flickr)
An abortion clinic poster in South Africa – pinned near a cemetery!

In March this year, Sierra Leone’s President Ernest Bai Koroma again refused to sign a bill legalising abortion, saying it should be put to a referendum. This despite it had having been unanimously passed by MPs in December.

His move has sparked criticism from local and international organisations who say that abortions are contributing to Sierra Leone’s staggering maternal mortality rates. The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that the country has the world’s highest maternal mortality ratio at 1,360 deaths per 100,000 live births last year.

Meanwhile, a study on Tanzania has just been released which says undercover abortion is common and is a major contributor to maternal death and injury.

The study, conducted by researchers at the U.S.-based Guttmacher Institute and Tanzania’s National Institute for Medical Research and Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences, found that an estimated 405,000 abortions were performed in the country in 2013, the vast majority of which were clandestine procedures that put women’s well-being at risk because of an abortion law that is both highly restrictive and ambiguous.

What the data says

The researchers, who conducted surveys of health facilities and health professionals and reviewed population and fertility data, estimate that 66,600 women received post-abortion care in health facilities for complications resulting from unsafe abortions in 2013. However, almost 100,000 women who experienced complications did not receive the medical attention they needed.

Each Year One Million Tanzanian Women Have an Unintended Pregnancy

The researchers hope that these findings will help inform Tanzania’s ongoing efforts to decrease its maternal mortality ratios, which remain among the highest in the world.

Unfortunately this is an all too common theme across Africa where it is estimated that 1.7m women are hospitalised due to unsafe procedures, and 29,000 maternal deaths occur each year.

Africa where abortion is permitted without restriction; Cape Verde, South Africa, Tunisia.

Even though over 6.4m abortions happen on the continent every year, only 3% of these happen under safe conditions because of the limitations imposed by legislation. Women, particularly those who are underage or unmarried, are more likely to look for a cheaper rate in a dodgy backstreet clinic or visit a “traditional doctor” to assist them in the termination of the pregnancy.

In 2008 the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimated that 14% of all maternal deaths on the continent – approximately 29,000 women – were due to unsafe abortion. For those who survive, there can be complications afterwards – the WHO estimates that about 1.7m women in Africa are hospitalised annually for complications of unsafe abortion.

Restrictive laws have also meant that hospitals are not properly equipped to provide post-abortion care, common shortcomings include, delays in treatment, shortages of trained health workers and medical supplies, use of inappropriate procedures and judgmental attitudes among clinic and hospital staff towards the patient.

Source: Mail & Guardian Africa

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