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Unsafe abortions, legal frameworks and maternal deaths

IN the first nationally representative study of the incidence of abortion and the provision of postabortion care in Tanzania, researchers found that clandestine abortion is common and is a major contributor to maternal death and injury.

The study, conducted by researchers at the U.S.-based G uttmacher Institute and Tanzania’s National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR) and Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences (MUHAS), found that an estimated 405,000 abortions were performed in the country in 2013, the vast majority of which were clandestine procedures that put women’s well-being at risk .

Because of an abortion law that is both highly restrictive and ambiguous, Tanzanian women generally seek clandestine abortions that are unsafe.

The researchers, who conducted surveys of health facilities and health professionals and reviewed population and fertility data, estimate that 66 ,6 00 women received postabortion care in health facilities for complications resulting from unsafe abortions in 2013.

However, almost 100,000 women who experienced complications did not receive the medical attention they needed. These findings, the researchers hope, will help inform Tanzania’s ongoing efforts to decrease its maternal mortality ratios, which remain among the highest in the world.

In addition to postabortion care services, Tanzanian women need better access to a full range of contraceptive methods and family planning counseling so they can mak e informed decisions, better access to contraceptives, more comprehensive post abortion care and greater availability of safe abortion services within the current legal framework are critical.

In the first nationally representative study of the incidence of abortion and the provision of post abortion care in Tanzania, researchers found that clandestine abortion is common and is a major contributor to maternal death and injury.

Within Tanzania, abortion rates vary considerably by zone. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), an estimated 22 million unsafe abortions tak e place in Tanzania, as in many other low income countries. Induced abortion is only legally available if the pregnancy is a threat to the woman’s life.

Consequently, women who want to terminate an unwanted pregnancy have to resort to illegal interv entions and thereby put their lives and health at risk . More research needs to be conducted, strengthening the evidence base for policymak ers to get a better understanding of the extent of the problem of unsafe abortions in Tanzania.

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Author: EDITOR

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