Experts Warn of Dire Health Risks as Abortions Shoot Up

August 15, 2013

The Star – Online
August 27, 2013

To terminate or not to terminate… these are the words that linger in most women minds when faced with an unplanned pregnancy. Currently, Kenya’s national abortion rate, at 48 abortions for every 1,000 women, is higher than almost every other country in Africa.According to a report released last week by the Ministry of Health, 465,000 women had abortions last year, the vast majority in unsafe conditions. As a result, some 120,000 women sought medical treatment for complications from abortions.

This loosely translates to a high of 1274 abortions per day and 53 every hour, with Rift Valley and Western and Nyanza combined accounting for 64 and 63 incidences per 1,000 cases respectively.

Rift Valley had the highest prevalence at 46,912, followed by Nyanza and Western’s 45,027. Central and Nairobi had 20,676 cases, North Eastern and Coast 16,649 incidences, while Eastern recorded the least at 12,169.

Of those who procured the abortions,64.4 per cent of them were married women or those living with their partners, 27.8 per cent of them had never been married and 7.5 per cent were divorced. Another report released last year by the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights found unsafe abortions caused up to 50 percent of maternal deaths in Kenya.

Speaking during the report launch in Nairobi, Kimani reiterated the need to increase contraceptives to address the unmet needs. Kenya has a 4.6 fertility rate, which loosely translates to five children per woman; a number population experts warn is too high in comparison to resource availability.

According to the report, nearly 50 per cent of births that were reported by the 2008-09 Kenya Demographic and Health Survey were “unwanted” or “mistimed; a figure that exposes cracks that continue to define the slow uptake of FP methods.

It further says that more than 70 per cent of women seeking post abortion services are not using contraceptives. Although most government facilities provide subsidised or free family planning services, the centres usually suffer a shortage of operations and inadequate qualified healthcare givers.

Common FP methods for women include female condoms, pills, coils and injectibles, while men can either use male condoms or undergo vasectomy, with the latter being snubbed by most men, due to its permanent status.

The ever contentious debate on slow uptake of FP has for long been riddled with myths that range from side effects, cost implications and biological malfunctioning for those using them.

In efforts aimed at reversing trends and regaining public confidence, Kimani says the government will put measures in place to enhance accountability by health providers. He says enforced citizen charters and a motivated workforce can turn around the skyrocketing numbers that are behind complications that bedevil operations.

“Unsafe abortion has been recognised as a leading cause of maternal morbidity and mortality,” Kimani says, as he cites a recent study that ranked unsafe sex as the leading contributor to disease.

“Stigma, inadequate information on sexuality and cultural pressure also hinder contraceptive use among women and girls,” the DMS says, and calls for strengthening of the ongoing demand-side financing of reproductive health services.

Common FP methods for women include female condoms, pills, coils and injectibles, while men can either use male condoms or undergo vasectomy, with the latter being snubbed by most men, due to its permanent status.

The ever contentious debate on slow uptake of FP has for long been riddled with myths that range from side effects, cost implications and biological malfunctioning for those using them.

In efforts aimed at reversing trends and regaining public confidence, Kimani says the government will put measures in place to enhance accountability by health providers. He says enforced citizen charters and a motivated workforce can turn around the skyrocketing numbers that are behind complications that bedevil operations.

“Unsafe abortion has been recognised as a leading cause of maternal morbidity and mortality,” Kimani says, as he cites a recent study that ranked unsafe sex as the leading contributor to disease.

“Stigma, inadequate information on sexuality and cultural pressure also hinder contraceptive use among women and girls,” the DMS says, and calls for strengthening of the ongoing demand-side financing of reproductive health services.

– See more at: http://www.the-star.co.ke/news/article-133674/experts-warn-dire-health-risks-abortions-shoot#sthash.jqDHsls1.dpuf

Read more: http://www.the-star.co.ke/news/article-133674/experts-warn-dire-health-risks-abortions-shoot


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