CRITICAL

List abortion as an essential service during Covid-19

This will reduce abortion-related mortality and morbidity.

In Summary
  • Women are dying, thousands of others are suffering from complications of unsafe abortion.
  • Lack of access to safe abortion results in 45 per cent of all abortions globally being unsafe and 13 per cent of maternal mortality worldwide.
Pregnant teen.
Pregnant teen.
Image: FILE

According to the World Health Organization, lack of access to safe abortion results in 45 per cent of all abortions globally being unsafe and 13 per cent of maternal mortality worldwide. In addition, WHO has listed reproductive health services, including care during pregnancy and childbirth, as essential services.

However, the challenge lies in ensuring safe abortion care as a component of reproductive health service. The emergence of Covid-19 has further worsened the sexual and reproductive health of women, who may be in danger of pregnancy complications and are therefore at risk of unsafe abortion.

This is due to limited access to safe abortion services, limited access to contraceptives and movement restrictions due to curfew and lockdowns.

In addition, there is limited knowledge and awareness among health workers, lawyers, social workers and community leaders as well as the women themselves.

Recognising access to safe abortion as an essential health service as classified by the World Health Organization will reduce abortion-related mortality and morbidity. However, this should go beyond listing to implementation.

Women are dying, thousands of others are suffering from complications of unsafe abortion. In order to accelerate advocacy efforts towards safe abortion care and to reduce mortality and morbidity related to unsafe abortion, there is need for countries to work together and in turn protect the sexual and reproductive health of women and girls who may be at risk of unsafe abortion.

Network for Adolescent and Youth of Africa, NAYA-Kenya