An estimated 2,600 women die from unsafe abortions annually. These figure comprises of cases reported in the public healthcare system, meaning the number could be much higher. Many of the victims are aged between 10 and 24 years.
Good news coming in Mid-February this year was that the Ministry of Health in Kenya, approved post abortion guidelines, a pocket guide for healthcare providers; on how to handle complications resulting from abortions.
The guide-book that will soon be launched will equip service providers with the necessary knowledge and skills on the prevention of post-abortion deaths.
“We consider this an advocacy gain for Kenya “Said, Mr. Edward Marienga, Executive Director Family Health Options Kenya Mr. Marienga spoke during an advocacy meeting in Nairobi, by International Planned Parenthood Association Africa Region (IPPFAR), that brought together Civil Society Organizations, journalists and parliamentarians. “There was a lot of confusion around offering Post Abortion Care services given that these guidelines existed before but were retracted in 2012. The move left many of health care providers scared of handling cases that could trickle in. They referred patients to National hospitals where many died before getting the much needed services” Added Mr. Marienga.
The advocacy meeting that took place last week (24th-28th March), meant to strengthen capacities and collaboration between the three groups for improved sexual and reproductive health outcomes for Africa.
Roseline Odera, Communications and Advocacy Officer FHOK however mentioned that a lot of advocacy work, coordination among CSOs and consultations by the Ministry’s Reproductive and Maternal Health Unit yielded fruits. She also said that cases by media depicting the gravity of the unsafe abortions triggered the Ministry of Health to act.
While abortion is illegal in Kenya, it is permitted in instances where the mother’s life is in danger. Article 26(4) states: “Abortion is not permitted unless, in the opinion of a trained health professional, there is the need for emergency treatment or the life or health of the mother is in danger, or if permitted by any other written law.”Article 158 stipulates a 14-year jail term to anyone who attempts to procure an abortion.
Unsafe abortions have been identified as one of the major causes of maternal deaths locally. The 2014 Kenya Demographic Health Survey says unsafe abortions accounted for 35 percent of the maternal deaths; the global average is 13 percent.
This pocket guide will contribute to the universal health coverage and by extension Vision 2030 through improvement of maternal and newborn health in Kenya.