By Jacquiline Emodek
Government spends approximately sh. 7.5 billion every year on treating complications that arise from unsafe abortions according to Center for Health Human Rights and Development (CEHURD).
Dr. Olive Ssentumbwe from the World Health Organization (WHO) attributes this to the low contraceptive prevalence rate in the country which lies at 30 percent.
“A high percentage of people are not using family planning methods and this is costing the government a lot of money on all levels of service delivery without including the individual cost,” she said.
Ssentumbwe explained that currently Uganda has 840 abortions a day and 35 abortions an hour estimating the cost of an abortion to the individual woman and community at about sh.60, 000 and sh.120, 000 for post abortion care.
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines abortion as a procedure for terminating an unintended pregnancy carried out by persons lacking the necessary skills or in an environment that does not conform to minimal medical standards or both.
The minister for primary health care, Sarah Opendi attributed the high rate of unsafe abortion related complications to failure to embrace family planning methods.
“Government spends $5m on contraceptives but only 26 percent of married women use one way or another type of contraceptive so what happens to the rest and when a pregnancy is unwanted people resort to abortions,” she argued.
Dr. Charles Kiggundu a gynecologist and obstetrician at Mulago hospital said that stigma and moralization are the biggest issues when it comes to use of contraceptives leading women to resort to abortions in the event of unwanted pregnancies.
Opendi tasked the public to play their role in leveraging all available opportunities to improve the status of maternal health in Uganda.
“It is unbelievable but when we speak about family planning there are voices speaking against us and yet it plays an important role in avoiding unwanted pregnancies,” she said.
Kiggundu noted that only 15-20 percent of the health facilities can provide quality post abortion health care.
“After post abortion treatment a physician should ensure that the woman receives contraceptives because if she stumbled once, it should be criminal that she stumbles again however very few health facilities do this,” he said.
Opendi pointed out the need for an enabling law to curb the high mortality rate as a result of unsafe abortions.
“We need an enabling law because even where we need to save mothers we still have staff who do not know what to do because they do not know if they will be arrested,” she noted.
Professor Ben Twinomugisha a lecturer of law at Makerere University noted that countries like Kenya and Swaziland have come out to amend the law to permit abortions in incidences of rape however such a law does not exist in Uganda.
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