Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Abortion key contributor to maternal deaths: report

Nearly one-third of all maternal deaths in every district in Tanzania are due to unsafe abortions, it has been revealed.

The statistics by Tanzania Women Lawyers Association (Tawla) released on Monday urged journalists to deepen investigations on sexual and reproductive health and rights because it was the least covered topic, hence was misunderstood and misinterpreted in the society.

“Communicating sexual and reproductive health as well as unsafe abortions is a challenge not only for advocates of sexual health rights but also for media practitioners.

Whether one supports safe abortions or not, the reality is that women have them in countries where they are legal, safe and affordable or in nations where they are illegal, dangerous and expensive,” said Tawla’s facilitator Annmarie Mavenjina.

She was conducting a one-day seminar themed: “Media Sensitisation Workshop on Unsafe Abortion”, to provide journalists with correct and useful information on the legal framework in Tanzania on abortion and other reproductive rights issues.

“Twenty-two per cent of women in stable relationships who need family planning have no access to services, resulting in a large number of unwanted pregnancies, unsafe abortions and high rates of maternal deaths and ill-health,” she said.

Tawla said: “There is a linkage between what we support - the right of a woman to make her own personal and private decisions about abortion without the government interfering - and what happens when that right is denied.”

Amongst the way forward derived from the seminar were the adoption of measures to increase knowledge of and access to affordable contraceptives, as well as promotion of sex education widely among adolescent girls and boys, with special attention to the prevention of early pregnancies. (Abela Msikula)