The Deputy Director of Public Health at the Upper West Regional Health Directorate, Dr Richard Wodah-Seme has called on stakeholders to support the Ghana Health Service (GHS) to eradicate unsafe abortion in the region.
The Deputy Director enumerated that between 2017 and 2021, the region recorded 1,750 incomplete unsafe abortions with three maternal deaths and 77 post abortion services.
“Incomplete abortions happen when women use unorthodox methods to get rid of pregnancies but do not succeed and are rushed to the health centre due to complications”, he defined.
Dr Wodah-Seme made this known on Friday at a stakeholders’ meeting on Comprehensive Abortion Care (CAC) services which according to him had been integrated into routine maternal health services to help control unsafe abortions.
Started in 2021, the CAC is a three-year programme by the GHS aimed at promoting safe abortions by trained medical staff as enshrined in the laws of the country to halt the practice of unsafe abortions and its related complications.
The Deputy Director stressed that unsafe abortions had serious economic and public health implications for the family, community and the country at large.
“As enshrined in the abortion laws of Ghana, safe abortion is permitted for pregnancies resulting from rape and incest as well as pregnancies that could endanger the life of the woman”, he said.
He expressed that most women resorted to unsafe means of abortion as a result of stigma, socio-cultural and religious barriers attached to the practice.
“These barriers make women seek secrecy instead of safety even with contraceptive services and place them at higher risk of unintended pregnancies. Women who fear criticism prefer clandestine abortion practices which can affect their chances of having babies in future”, he said.
CAC, he stated was also a means of reducing maternal deaths and other risks that arose as a result of having unsafe abortions.
“Under CAC services there is treatment for incomplete abortions and related complications and the women also have the opportunity to receive guidance and counselling from qualified health workers to enhance their emotional and physical needs”, he said.
“We are working hard to build a community and service provider partnership for the prevention of unwanted pregnancies and unsafe abortion and also mobilise resources to help women receive prompt and proper care from complications of abortions”, he added.
The regional focal person for the CAC, Ms Reyana Hakeem stated that a Ghana Maternal Health Survey by the GHS over the last five years showed that women aged 15 to 49 years induced abortions for various reasons such as denial of pregnancy by male partners, quest for higher education and the fear of having children outside marriage.
She encouraged stakeholders, such as traditional rulers to work together with the GHS on the swift implementation of the CAC to protect girls and women from preventable deaths.
FROM LYDIA DARLINGTON FORDJOUR, WA