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Trump Policy likely to increase maternal deaths in Uganda

By Vicky Wandawa

Added 26th October 2017 04:37 PM

The revelation was made in a letter to the US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson from the Human Rights Watch, which was released today

Trump Policy likely to increase maternal deaths in Uganda

Trump

The revelation was made in a letter to the US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson from the Human Rights Watch, which was released today

Healthcare providers have raised concern regarding increment in unsafe abortions and associated maternal deaths as a result of United States' health aid cuts to essential health services in Kenya and Uganda.

The revelation was made in a letter to the US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson from the Human Rights Watch, which was released today.

On January 23, 2017, US President Donald Trump issued an expanded "Mexico City Policy," later renamed the "Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance" policy requiring foreign NGOs receiving US global health aid to certify they do not use US funds to provide abortions except in cases of rape, incest, or to save a woman's life.

Organisations which wish to keep their US funding cannot offer information or referrals for abortion - even where abortions are legal - or advocate liberalising abortion laws. US law already prohibits using US funds for abortion in foreign family planning assistance.

"Our research shows that the expanded Mexico City Policy is already erecting barriers that will block people in Kenya and Uganda from the healthcare they need," said Skye Wheeler, women's rights emergencies researcher at Human Rights Watch.

"Because the US is the world's largest health donor, this indefensible change in policy puts the lives of many women and girls at risk."

According to the letter, Kenya and Uganda both rely heavily on US health funds to combat high maternal mortality rates and the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

"The Ugandan government has estimated that unsafe abortions contribute to 8% of maternal deaths," reads the letter.

Furthermore, Human Rights Watch found the policy has triggered reductions in key sexual and reproductive health services from well-established organisations that cannot easily be replaced, for example, Family Health Options Kenya (FHOK) runs 16 healthcare facilities in the country.

FHOK representatives said the organization will not comply with the restrictions and therefore will lose US funds, which make up roughly 60% of its budget, and that it may have to cut as many as half of its services.

The organisation has already closed one clinic and canceled 100 planned outreach events, including for cervical cancer screening, HIV testing, and family planning counseling, that typically reach 100 people each time.

"President Trump should rescind this devastating policy, which will set back hard-won global health gains," Wheeler said.

 

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