NIGERIA – The Performance Monitoring for Action group has raised alarm over the high rate of unsafe abortion in Nigeria, despite the legal restrictions around it.
The group through recent research revealed that Rivers and Anambra States top the charts with the highest number of abortions on a yearly basis.
Their findings were submitted to the Anambra State government through the state commissioner for health, Dr Vincent Okpala
Unveiling the finding of the group on Thursday, during a stakeholders meeting, the state coordinator of PMA, Mrs Nonye Emene said many women do not seek safe abortions, leading to increased maternal deaths.
“Abortion is common in Nigeria, despite legal restrictions. Most women don’t know safe abortion methods or sources and instead they rely on convenient options that are private but put women at risk.
“Abortion is an important public health and health equity issue. More than 6 out of 10 abortions in Nigeria are unsafe, involving non-recommended methods from non-clinical sources, with disadvantaged women most likely to have an unsafe abortion.”
The research revealed that more than half of women (56%) who reported an abortion during the research said they experienced a potential complication, with young, uneducated, poor, and rural women most likely to experience negative outcomes that require further treatment.
The group while offering recommendations said the government can take certain actions to reduce the burden of unsafe abortion-related maternal deaths and injuries.
“Government needs to improve the availability of information on sexual and reproductive health services. Governments should increase women’s knowledge through improved sex education in schools and public information campaigns.
“Improve access to PAC (post-abortion care) by increasing the availability of basic PAC at public primary health care facilities. This can be achieved through provider training and provision of necessary commodities like manual vacuum aspirator kits and misoprostol.”
The group charged the government to ensure that safe abortion services are available to the full extent of the law in a given state, and expand its legal indications beyond situations in which the woman’s life is at risk.
It added that five states have done so, including the Federal Capital Territory, especially on legal conditions that include rape and incest, through the adoption of the 2015 Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Act.
Dr Okpala who received the report assured that the Anambra State government would study it and ensure implementation of recommendations, where necessary.