More than 250 health professionals, advocates and MPs from Africa and beyond gather in Accra, Ghana on unsafe abortion.
Unsafe abortion is one of the continentâs biggest threats to womenâs health. While abortion is safe in countries where it is legal and provided by trained medical professionals, clandestine abortion in most of Africa leads to death and serious injury.
More than 26,000 African women die as a result of unsafe abortion annually. Another 1.7 million are hospitalised, and many others suffer serious health complications, but do not seek treatment.
More than 90 per cent of African women of childbearing age live in countries with limited or no access to safe abortion procedures.
Recent data show 5.6 million abortions are carried out in annually, but only 100,000 are performed under safe conditions.
This means about 5.5 million African women risk their lives and health when they decide to terminate a pregnancy.
Drinking bleach detergents or inserting sharp objects into their cervix are only two of the horrifying methods they use. These are not risks any woman should be forced to take.
The terrible toll of unsafe abortion goes beyond the individual woman. Losing their mother and caregiver devastates the lives of children and families. Losing a healthy woman leaves a huge dent on the community. Unsafe abortion is also a serious drain on limited public health resources. African governments spend about Sh11,400 to provide care for a woman disabled by unsafe abortion.
While some African nations have loosened abortion restrictions, 14 countries still prohibit it under all circumstances â even to save the pregnant womanâs life. This flies in the face of considerable evidence that legalising abortion saves lives and reduces high maternal mortality rate.
Evidence shows abortion happens at about the same rate in regions where it is highly restricted and where it is legal. The key difference is safety.