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Ipas on FASMA: Africa Women and Children Health Report



Women Children HealthMaternal mortality is still worryingly high in in Africa and is estimated at over 1000 per 100,000 live births in some countries by WHO. Attempts to reduce this figure to meet national and global targets such as the Millennium Development Goals in the past years have not been successful. Maternal deaths result from five major causes— bleeding after delivery, infection, hypertensive diseases, unsafe abortion and obstructed labor.

Of all these causes of maternal death, causes due to unsafe abortion are the most preventable. Studies have shown that changing abortion policy and availing safe services in health facilities reduce these deaths to negligible numbers and at the same time do not increase the number of abortions.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has repeatedly reported in their communiqué that changing abortion law does not change numbers of abortions, only influencing the safety of the procedure. In countries where abortions are legal, they are mostly safe while in countries where the laws do not allow, abortions are performed in the backstreet and lead to massive deaths of women.

The reason we have failed to implement these well-known public health facts though is because of the stigma associated with abortion. Values on abortion among health workers and policy makers are very varied and this has slowed action. The result is that we have failed to save the many women who die in Africa each year.

The moral dilemma, then, is whether we should allow more women to die, sometimes sign their death certificates when we know that this could be prevented. Ipas and its partners believe that it is unethical to allow these deaths. It is also bad public health practice irrespective of our values. Ipas believes that professionals have a duty to dispense their professions and that they should not impose their values on their patients.

English: A map of the world showing country-le...

English: A map of the world showing country-level maternal mortality rates. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ipas is convinced that FAMSA has a great opportunity to influence the values of doctors by targeting them before they qualify. If they qualify with a clear purpose of their roles as professionals, they can save many women in future. It is for this reason that Ipas is pleased to collaborate with FAMSA. We hope this collaboration saves lives now and in the future.

Dr Joachim Osur

Director, Ipas Africa Alliance Programs

P.O. Box 1192-00200 Nairobi, Kenya

As seen from FAMSA Annual Conference Report (March 2012)

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About Richard Nelson

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