Saving our women from untimely death
Foluso Alawiye was my cousin but we lost her to an unsafe abortion during her final year in her secondary education. Very beautiful with a promising future, I could still remember vividly how she came home on that fateful day bleeding profusely few hours after.
We later learnt of an abortion done by a quack resulting in uncompleted evacuation.
Janet Obatobi occupied same hostel with me in the university and she had a similar experience as Foluso above.
These and other sad incidents came to memory during a seminar organised by the Population Reference Bureau, PRB, Washington DC in collaboration with Network of Reproductive Health Journalists of Nigeria, in Lagos, strengthening further, the resolve to end this absurdity while ensuring access to safe abortion and family planning.
Speaking on the need to stop or reduce to the bearest minimum, the alarming statistics from unsafe abortion by reviewing the laws and making services less-cumbersome as well as affordable, Dr. Funmi OlaOlorun, Co-Principal Investigator, Performance Monitoring and Accountability, PMA2020, said that research has shown that abortion cuts across as it occurs among women of all ages and socioeconomic status.
According to her, available statistics has shown very significant number of young population and even married women engaged in unsafe abortion leading to serious infections, disabilities and in many cases, untimely deaths.
Based on these consequences, all hands need to be on deck towards ensuring that it is regarded urgently as a matter of public health significance.
OlaOlorun’s presentation at the seminar also revealed unsafe abortion as a silent epidemic that must be attended to while giving the necessary information for those affected to take informed decision.
Furthermore, all stakeholders at the seminar call on all the state governments to adopt the 2015 Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Act. Law and make it truly operational.
In addition, we must do everything possible to eliminate barriers to safe abortion services and all forms of sexual violence against women and girls as the annual abortion incidence remains 33 per 1,000 among women ages 15-49 in 2012.
According to WHO, maternal mortality ratio is 545 to 841 per 100,000 live births with 9.6% maternal deaths annually due to unsafe abortion in Nigeria as a result of unmet reproductive health needs.
As a matter of fact, listening to many facilitators at the seminar has really strengthened me and am sure others too, to understand what exactly is Safe-Engage project, why is it critical at this time and how to be an advocate of the Safe-Engage advocacy tool among others.
We must step up public awareness on causes and consequences of unsafe abortions and the dangers of not having access to legal and safe abortion. This is very important in order to make the difference.
PMA2020 is a 5year study between 2014-2018 in 11 countries, including Nigeria with 8 states; Kaduna, Lagos, Anambra, Kano, Nasarawa, Rivers, Taraba and Oyo.
Everyone should know that in the Lagos Criminal Code of 2011, abortion is legal to preserve the life, and physical health of a woman.
And it must be performed by a medical doctor.
Medication abortion can be performed up to a gestational age of 9 weeks, BUT Maputo protocol includes that women should have access to safe abortion if their lives, physical or mental health are in danger.
Modern contraception provides a safe way for women to meet their reproductive needs. However, abortion should not be used as a means of family planning for the sake of the woman’s health.
We seriously must stop all forms of sociocultural stigma against abortion, eradicate all the restrictive abortion laws so as to stop our women from preventable deaths.
Whenever we read or hear news of women dying as a result of pregnancy-related complications, termination of unwanted pregnancy, among others, it’s usually a mind-boggling issue to all right thinking human beings.
All states of the federation must adopt the nationally approved clinical guidelines on safe abortion for legal indications and the VAPP Act.
Doing this will further help in protecting our girls, women, and marginalised communities from abuse.
Based on Nigeria’s rapid population growth, we really need to do more in order to be able to achieve our nation’s goal of raising its modern Contraceptive Prevalence Rates (CPR) to 27 per cent for all women by 2020, given the nation’s current CPR of 12%.
The implementation of government’s policies and guidelines to advance the utilisation of family planning methods in Nigeria, thereby reducing unsafe abortion and reverse this rapid population growth must be a priority.
Nigerian government must continue to make commitments to a sustainable financing for the national family planning programme, improving availability of services and commodities as well as building partnerships to improve access to contraceptives.
Our nation should be able to do better than the Federal Executive Council approved annual counterpart funding of $4million for procurement of contraceptives for a period spanning 2017 to 2020 so as to stop us depending on donors for our contraceptives.
In doing this, let us focus on end-users’ comfortability and the men too because of their importance in the power dynamics in this part of the world.
There must be awareness creation to address myths and misconceptions about abortion, family planning, empowerment, accessibility and affordability.
Having a safe place to procure safe abortion is a right that must be protected. Also, having manageable well-structured population will surely give room for quality standard of living. Sexual and reproductive health and rights of all must be properly defentaken care of.
Knowledge is light and information is power, the awareness creation must be a continuous one by all sundry in order for us to achieve the set goals