Search for ways to curb impact of unsafe abortions
THE Africa Regional Conference on “Abortion: From Research to Policy”, kicked off in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, yesterday with the aim of building on a decade of work linking research to action to reduce unsafe abortions in sub-Saharan Africa.
The three-day conference, which was organised by the Guttmacher Institute, and Ipas, a global nonprofit organisation that works to increase women’s ability to exercise their sexual and reproductive rights, and to reduce maternal mortality rates, ends on Friday.
The conference has brought together 250 researchers, policymakers, advocates, health care providers, youth, journalists and donors who will focus on reducing the detrimental impact of unsafe abortion on Africans, especially young women and adolescents, as well as on their families and society as a whole.
“An estimated 56 million abortions occur each year worldwide,” said the Guttmacher Institute.
“The proportion of abortions that are performed under unsafe conditions is not known. However, complications from unsafe abortions are common in developing regions, where the procedure is often highly restricted,” said the organisers.
In Africa, women have more than 8million abortions each year, many of them deemed to be unsafe.
About 1.6million women in the region are treated annually for complications from unsafe abortion, while many experience complications and do not receive the treatment they need.
According to the most recent estimates, at least 9percent of maternal deaths in Africa annually are due to unsafe abortion.
It is estimated that 90percent of African women of childbearing age live in countries with restrictive abortion laws, and even where the law allows abortion under certain circumstances, few women are able to navigate the processes required to obtain a safe and legal procedure. Unsafe abortion is a major public health problem, not only in countries where access to safe abortion is highly restricted, but also where it is legally allowed.
The Africa Regional Conference on Abortion will highlight findings from research and how they have contributed to changes in policy and practice, as well as improvements in abortion policy and programmes, during the past decade.