Thandeka Moyo, Chronicle Reporter
LESS than half of health facilities in Zimbabwe are fully equipped to handle pregnancy-related complications which include post-abortion care, a study has shown.
In 2016 alone, 66 800 unsafe abortions were carried out according to a recent study in the country, which translates to about 18 out of every 1 000 pregnancies.
This puts more women at risk of maternal deaths given that Zimbabwe has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world which stand at 640 per 100 000 births.
Experts say 18 percent of these deaths are caused by unsafe abortions.
The Guttmacher Institute, an international organisation that deals with sexual reproductive health rights says many women experiencing complications from unsafe abortion or miscarriage faced delays in obtaining post-abortion care.
“More than half of health facilities reported shortages of misoprostol, an essential medicine for post-abortion care, in the three months preceding the survey.
“Half of facilities designated under national guidelines to provide manual vacuum aspiration did not have the equipment to do so,” read the report.
“A substantial proportion of first-trimester post abortion cases were treated using surgical procedures not recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO) or national guidelines for this type of care.
“These procedures are more expensive and carry greater risk for further complications than medically recommended methods such as manual vacuum aspiration and misoprostol.”
According to the study, more than one third of facilities reported stock outs for blood transfusion and IV antibodies necessary for such complications.
“Most women who have an abortion in Zimbabwe do so because they become pregnant when they do not intend to. In carrying out the research it was discovered that 40 percent of pregnancies in Zimbabwe were unintended and a quarter of unintended pregnancies ended in abortion,” read the report.
“Zimbabwe has the highest rate of modern contraceptive use in Sub-Saharan Africa, likely due to the Government’s robust family planning programme.
“Two-thirds (67 percent) of married women and sexually active unmarried women in Zimbabwe used modern contraceptive methods in 2017.”
However, according to the study, one in 10 married women and two in 10 sexually active unmarried women reported wanting to avoid a pregnancy but were not using any contraceptive method.
In Zimbabwe, abortion is legally permitted under limited circumstances and that is when the pregnant woman’s life is in danger or in cases of rape, incest or foetal impairment. – @thamamoe