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Abortion-associated stigma affecting access to Post-Abortion Care – MOH

FILE PHOTO: Dr. Charles Olaro

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | While the government has put in place medical care services to support mothers who need post-abortion care in all healthcare centers, the Ministry of Health reveals that many of them still die due to complications without seeking help.

Speaking at a press conference on Friday, Dr. Charles Olaro, the Director of Curative Services in the Health Ministry revealed that despite awareness efforts about the availability of such services that help women battling complications post-abortion, many still end up in the medical ward even when they turn up to hospitals because they provide wrong information to health workers.

Olaro who was speaking ahead of the World Contraception Day commemoration event which will be held in Kyenjojo on Saturday said it is because of this that the contribution of unsafe abortion to the general mortality figures has kept high at 10% of all cases of maternal mortality. Currently, maternal mortality is estimated at 189 women per 10,000 live births.

However, it should be noted that abortion is generally illegal in Uganda with Article 22 of the 1995 Constitution providing for the right to life and Article 22(2) specifically providing for not terminating an unborn child except if it is to save the life of the mother.

In addition, the Penal Code Act of Uganda Cap 120, provides for criminal penalties to several aspects of abortion including punishing the health worker who helps a mother procure an illegal abortion. If convicted such a health worker is imprisoned for three years whereas a pregnant woman who aborts is imprisoned for seven years if convicted.

Over the years, activists have been advocating against this law saying it’s partly the reason why women go into unsafe abortion or fail to turn up for post-abortion care when they get complications.

Rose Wakikona, a Senior Attorney at an NGO Women’s Link Worldwide says even as there are limitations in the law, safe abortions can still be procured but challenges arise when health workers fail to interpret the law and deny women care.

Meanwhile, the majority of the women who procure abortions crudely are said to be younger girls who are victims of unintended pregnancies.

According to Esther Makula, a Communications Officer at Naguru Teenage Health and Information Center, they have resolved to offer as much information as possible to teenage girls to create awareness.

She says they have now set up thirty-four youth-friendly corners at public health facilities across the country to cater for youth–specific health problems.

According to statistics by the Health Ministry, 75 billion shillings was spent on providing post-abortion care last financial year.



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