Health News of Saturday, 2 February 2013

Source: GNA

45 per cent of abortions in Ghana remain unsafe

Guttmacherinstitute, a research institute based in the United Kingdom says despite the fairly liberal abortion law in Ghana, unsafe abortion remained the second most common cause of maternal mortality in the country.

Ms Jessica Malter, Senior Communications Associate of the Institute said maternal mortality accounted for 11 per cent of maternal deaths in the country and therefore advocated the need for Ghana Health Service and the Ministry of Health to establish protocol for the provision of safe abortions services.

She noted that almost 45 per cent of abortions in Ghana remained unsafe.

Ms Malter made this known when members of the Institute in collaboration with Planned Parenthood Association of Ghana (PPAG), visited some health facilities in Cape Coast Metropolis to know at first hand the abortion situation.

She said despite Ghana’s liberal law, as of 2007, a mere three per cent of pregnant women and only six per cent of those seeking an abortion were aware of the legal status of abortion.

She said the law permits abortion in cases of rape, incest, defilement of female idiots, if the life or health of women are in danger or if there is risk of foetal abnormality.

Ms Malter explained that a survey conducted on women in 2007 revealed that at least 15 induced abortions are carried out for every 1,000 women of reproductive age of 14 to 44.

She said since abortion was heavily stigmatised in Ghana, actual incidence of the procedure was very likely to be under-reported in face to face interviews.

Ms Malter said the reasons Ghanaian women most frequently cite for having an abortion, are being financially unable to cater for a child, needing to delay child bearing in order to continue schooling or work as well as wanting to space or limit the number of children they have.

To help reduce the cases of unsafe abortions in the country, she recommended that the coverage and quality of post abortion care should be improved to reduce maternal deaths and complications from unsafe abortions.

She also called for the increase in the role of trained midwives in providing abortion services particularly in remote and rural areas where there are relatively few health care providers.

Ms Malter suggested the need for Ghana to increase awareness of the legal status of abortion.

Mr Michael Tagoe, Project Officer of PPAG Cape Coast, called on women to patronise the programmes and activities of the Association especially the comprehensive ones on family planning and abortion care.

This, he said could go a long way to help women prevent unwanted pregnancies as well as unsafe abortions.

Mrs Joana Nerquaye-Tetteh, Reproductive Biologist and Consultant with Guttmacher said about 37 per cent of births in the country were unplanned, 27 per cent were mistimed while 14 per cent was unwanted pregnancies.