The staggering cost of treating unsafe abortions in Kenya

Policy makers in the country are being confronted by the harsh reality of the staggering cost of treating unsafe abortions in Kenya.

According to a research by the Ministry of Health which was published in February 2018, the treatment of unsafe abortion complications cost the public health system a total of Ksh 432.7 million approximately 5.1 million US Dollars in health personnel salaries and medical supplies.

A huge chunk of these monies was spent in the treatment of severe medical complications in 2012.

The research further detailed projections in 2016 at Ksh 533 million as the price the country paid due to unsafe abortions.

Rift valley and Western regions saw the greatest amounts of money spent as a consequence of unsafe abortion standing at Ksh 112 million and Ksh 83 million respectively.

The two regions also had the greatest number of women admitted to public facilities for complications from unsafe abortions in 2012.

The study also shows that in 2012 alone, the country recorded 464,690 induced abortions.

According to the ministry, it requires 7.4 hours of health care personnel time to treat a woman for complications arising from an unsafe abortion.

“To address unsafe abortions in Kenya requires strengthening government institutions and agencies mandated to protect women’s health to implement life-saving measures within the limits of the law.  These measures include promoting women’s access to quality post-abortion care, including post-abortion family planning counseling and improved provision and education about family planning. Increasing access for both women and men to effective contraceptive methods, particularly long-acting reversible contraceptives, will also tackle one of the root causes of unsafe abortion”, the report says.

Presently unsafe abortion accounts for 47,000 annual maternal deaths globally with over 90% of these deaths occurring in low- and middle-income countries especially on the African continent.

Countless other women who undergo unsafe abortion suffer serious and life-threatening injuries.

According to the World Health Organization-WHO, unsafe abortion is the termination of a pregnancy either by persons lacking the necessary skills or in an environment lacking the minimal medical standards, or both.

World Health Organization argues that unless women avoid unplanned pregnancies, millions of them risk experiencing an unsafe abortion during their lives, particularly in low- and middle-income countries.

However, health practitioners and health rights advocates are blaming the government and religious organizations saying that they are the greatest impediment to advocacy and information regarding Reproductive Health Rights in the country.

They are arguing that the implementation of these rights would reduce unsafe abortions in the country.

African Population and Health Research Center on its part says that action is needed to tackle the root causes of abortion by increasing access to effective long-acting contraception.


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