Thandeka Moyo, Health Reporter
ABOUT 16 percent of Zimbabwe’s maternal deaths are caused by unsafe abortions, a procedure which is illegal in the country.
Zimbabwe’s maternal mortality rate stands at 614 deaths per every 100 000 live births which remains one of the highest in the region.
In The Trends in Maternal Mortality Study: 1990 to 2013 by the United Nations Population Fund, the United Nations considers a maternal mortality ratio of less than 100 as low, between 100 and 299 as moderately low, and high when it is 300 to 499.
According to a statement from the Ministry of Health and Child Care, teenagers aged between 15 and 19 account for a fifth of all the pregnancies in the country.
Family Health Director Dr Bernard Madzima said legalising abortion is beyond the ministry as it requires input from a lot of stakeholders including parliament, traditional leaders and church leaders.
“About 16 percent of the maternal deaths are caused by abortions because people do unsafe abortions.
“Half of this percentage are adolescents and this is because they do not have information on family planning issues. These abortions are mostly prevalent in rural areas because of the economic problems,” said Dr Madzima.
He said complications of unsafe abortion include trauma, bleeding, infections, infertility, chronic abdominal pain and death.
“The Termination of Pregnancy Act has been there since 1977 and the Act states the conditions when the mother is supposed to terminate the pregnancy.
“One of the indications is when the life of the mother is under threat because of the pregnancy for example when one has been raped and there has been incest. When the conditions arise the woman is supposed to go to a Government facility and two doctors are supposed to approve the termination of the pregnancy,” he said.
An average of seven women die while giving birth in Zimbabwe weekly amid reports that 132 maternal deaths have been recorded since the beginning of the year. Experts say presenting oneself late in hospital, bleeding, high blood pressure and infections are the major causes of maternal deaths in Zimbabwe.