What you need to know:
- The Ministry of Health, in its annual Health Sector Performance Report of 2017-2018, estimates that as of 2018, 5.3 percent of all maternal deaths result from abortion-related complications.
- According to the same report, about 400,000 abortions are carried out in unregulated environments each year in Uganda, with nearly a quarter [100,000] leading to severe health complications, including an average of four deaths per day.
Health workers in Jinja City have expressed concern over the surging cases of abortion in the area, especially among women between 21 and 39 years.
Abortion is the termination of a pregnancy by removal or expulsion of an embryo or fetus before it can survive outside the uterus.
Dr Musa Muki, the officer-in-charge of Jinja Islamic health centre, said because the procedure is illegal, many women have resorted to seeking post-abortion services from private medical facilities.
“Over the past two months [August and September], we received 24 post-abortion cases of those who visited the facility for a scan to confirm whether the fetus was completely expelled or remained inside,’’ Dr Muki said in an interview on Monday.
He attributed the spike [in abortion] to the Covid-19 induced lockdown which left many people unemployed.
“Men are no longer responsible and don’t have jobs so, when a woman gets pregnant, the man denies the paternity yet the woman also can’t maintain herself leading to many cases of abortion,’’ Dr Muki said.
He added: “Those who don’t come for treatment get complications. For example infections in the fallopian tube which become narrow and the next pregnancy becomes ectopic [a pregnancy that occurs outside of the uterus]. After two months, it bursts and the expectant mother could die. Abortion is the most common cause of death among mothers due to over bleeding.”
Dr Muki said his facility can’t decline treating women who have terminated their pregnancy. He, however, added that legalising abortion “will strain the health system” as people will flood the facilities seeking these services.
He added that his facility has embarked on a campaign to sensitise the public through outreaches, mainstream, and social media, on the use of family planning methods to avoid unwanted pregnancies.
Residents speak out
Mr Jamir Isabirye, a resident of Main Street in Jinja City, said many women, who abort, are married and carry out the procedure to save their marriages.
“When a married woman is impregnated by another man, she decides to abort to save her marriage, especially for couples where the husband is not always around,” he said.
Ms Stella Tibigwayo, a resident of Lubas Road in Jinja City, said some women abort because they don’t have money to take care of the child.
“Some women want fewer children and don’t want to use family planning methods. Therefore, in case of another pregnancy, they decide to terminate the fetus,’’ she said.
Ms Janat Mutesi, a resident of Jinja City, said cases of rape are high and if a person doesn’t want to produce a child without a father, she decides to abort, while others terminate the pregnancy if it was as a result of incest.