Increasing sexuality education and the availability of Misoprostol pills can help to ensure safe abortion in Africa, according to a health expert, Dr. Nehemiah Kimathi.
Dr. Kimathi, the Senior Regional Adviser, Advocacy and Policy, at the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) Africa regional office in Kenya, made the suggestion in an exclusive interview with PANA during the just-ended Sixth Africa Conference on Sexual Health and Rights in Yaounde, Cameroon, this weekend.
Misoprostol is a drug used for medical abortion, as against surgical abortion, which could be Manual Vacuum Aspirator (MVA) or Electric Vacuum Aspirator (EVA).
He said the pill, if made available and within the reach of women, has the potential to reduce deaths arising from abortions, especially unsafe abortion, which accounts for the high maternal mortality rate on the continent.
“If it is available and the women are trained on its use. It can be used as a means of procuring a safe abortion. What should be done is to make sure that the pill is available in the pharmacy, then women are trained to use it...when to take it and what possible complications to expect,” he explained.
Unsafe abortion is described as a procedure carried out by somebody who does not have the required skills or in an environment that does not meet the required standards or both.
Out of the 78 million abortions that occurred globally, only 4.3 million abortions occur in Africa, where about 90% of abortions carried out are unsafe.
In Kenya, for example, a little more than 400,000 abortions were conducted in 2012, out of which there were about 197 admissions for complications resulting from unsafe abortions.
“Up to 26% of maternal deaths in Kenya are abortions related. One thing to be noted about abortion is that, if it is done safely, it is a harmless procedure and nobody really should die from abortions if it is done by qualified trained individuals in the right environment,” the expert added.
There are very restrictive laws that prohibit abortions in Africa.
Many countries allow abortions only to safe the mother’s life and when pregnancy results from rape or incest. But in South Africa and Morocco, abortions are available on demand.
Most abortions are carried out by adolescents, who engaged in unprotected sex which, in most cases, leads to unwanted or unplanned pregnancy.