Malawi experts call for safe abortion law: Costs of unsafe abortion at K232m

Government of Malawi is spending K232 million in providing care for post-abortion with 70, 000 women having abortion every year.

Abortion is legally restricted in Malawi with the Penal Code penalizing it with a minimum of 14 years in prison and experts have since called for a review of such laws.

According to statistics presented during the panel discussion organised by Coalition for the Prevention of Unsafe Abortion (COPUA) on Monday, about 30,000 women are treated for complications of unsafe abortion annually.

“One in five women who receive post-abortion care has severe complications. Unsafe abortion complications include fever and pain to haemorrhage, infection,  organ or system failure, shock and death,”  highlighted one of the panellists  Grace Malera.

Malera: Malawi needs a law for safe abortion
Malera: Malawi needs a law for safe abortion

Malera, Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) Executive Secretary, disclosed that at 675 per 100,000 live births, Malawi’s maternal mortality rate is one of the highest in the world.

She said 17 percent of the martenal deaths are attributed by unsafe abortion.

It was noted that almost half of the women seen for post-abortion care are younger than 25-years-old, four out of five are married, and almost two-thirds live in rural areas.

The panel discussion held at Mount Soche Hotel in Blantyre also noted that a more liberal abortion law will reduce the costs to the health-care system by 25 percent to 30 percent.

According to Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital (QECH) doctor, Phylos Bonongwe four out of 10 women treated at the hospital have miscarriage with one girl dying monthly due to unsafe abortion.

Gender and Human Rights Activist, Emma Kaliya pointed out that most of the women involved in unsafe abortion are from poor families that cannot afford proper health care.

Kaliya supported by Women Lawyers Association Executive Secretary, Natasha Namisengo called for revision of the laws that criminalise abortion.

“The current laws force women to have unsafe abortion. Current situation is a torture and a denial of one’s human rights,” said Namisengo.

Doctor Francis Kamwendo of College of Medicine while supporting the idea of revising the anti-abortion laws, said there was need to have counselling sessions to ensure incidences of unsafe abortion are reduced.

“There is always a reason for one to seek abortion. We need to understand why most of women are seeking abortion. There is a need to revise our current laws but also create a platform for proper counselling by health experts , which could save most of precious lives the country is losing through unsafe abortion,” explained Kamwendo.

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