Editor's Comment

Addressing unsafe abortions

REVELATIONS by the Ministry of Health that Zambia records about 93,000 abortions annually is a worrisome scourge that needs redress if we are to save lives of women.
We have been told that figures include safe and unsafe abortions conducted among teenagers and women, some of them single while others are in marriages.
It is a fact that the desire and failure to carry out abortions have had other consequences like dumping of babies deemed to have been born by ‘mistake’.
Much as we are aware that male condoms and surgical procedures like vasectomy are other forms of contraceptives available on the part of men, it is women who are at risk and they need protection from harm.
In fact, there is no record that shows a single man ever to have died or been adversely affected as women have for using any form of contraceptives.
If the old adage that ‘Who feels it knows it’ was one to go by, women who end up carrying pregnancies are on the receiving end, therefore, deserve to be preserved.
According to Ministry of Health chief safe motherhood officer Caren Chizuni, the alarming number of abortions in the country is as a result of low access to contraceptives.
What is more alarming is that 30 out of 1,000 women terminating unwanted pregnancies ended up dying due to unsafe abortion practices.
That unsafe abortions occurred among people who opted to illegally terminate their pregnancies from homes through the use of dangerous chemicals poses grave concern.
Now that we have identified the causes of the unsafe practice of terminating unwanted pregnancies as being due to low access to contraceptives, health authorities can start from there.
Inadequate access to contraceptives indicates that while the commodities are available in some health facilities, not every woman can manage to get them.
We feel health authorities can address the problem by flooding health centres with contraceptives and cut off hurdles that hinder women from accessing them.
Apart from the fear of losing lives, an increase in unsafe abortions is said to trigger increased cost of health services because Government is forced to spend more money on buying drugs and equipment to treat abortion-related complications.
Further, there is no need for women to opt for illegal means of abortion because the country has a law which legalises the practice even though it gives conditions to people who may want to undergo medical abortion.
We also agree that there is need for contraceptives to be made readily available so that sexually active women can access them and prevent unwanted pregnancies.
The media can be used to inform people about the various contraceptives made available to them.
How many women, for example, know about other forms of contraceptives like the oral contraceptive pill, intra-uterine device, contraceptive implant, contraceptive injection and contraceptive ring?
If knowing about such drugs can be a challenge, what about information on how accessible and safe such alternatives can be?
As much as the health sector has focused the attention and support to the fight against coronavirus, let us not turn a blind eye on matters that threaten women’s lives.

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