Post-abortion care in a land where it is illegal

Medical practitioners now have a better training manual to reduce deaths caused by post-abortion complications.

Medical Services director Jackson Kioko has said the Post-Abortion Care guidelines, which are yet to be launched officially, are a culmination of expert consultation from the Reproductive and Maternal Health Services Unit.

Kioko said more PAC training will be carried out in public health facilities.

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One would then question the illegality of abortions in Kenya and why the Health ministry would spend resources on improving post-abortion care.

Instead of pushing for post-abortion care, perhaps the bigger issue would be to address deaths caused by botched abortions.

While abortion is illegal in Kenya, it is permitted in instances where the mother’s life is in danger.

Article 26 (4) says abortion is not permitted unless, in the opinion of a trained health professional, there is the need for emergency treatment or the life or health of the mother is in danger, or if permitted by any other written law.

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Anyone found guilty of procuring an abortion will serve a jail term of 14 years.

The abortion debate in Kenya has been fueled by a recent case in which Caroline Mwatha, a human rights activist in Dandora, was found dead.

Mwatha had been missing for several days before her body was found at City Mortuary.

Caroline Mwatha. [Photo, Courtesy]

A postmortem examination conducted on February 14 established that she died from bleeding due to a raptured uterus.

Dr Peter Ndegwa, the pathologist who represented the family during the autopsy, said Mwatha had a male foetus that was between five to six months.

Dr Ndegwa said Mwatha over-bled, both internally and externally, the foetus was dismembered and part of the skull broken.

"Somebody badly mutilated the foetus, there was no left upper rib," Ndegwa said.

Hers is not the only case.

Other existing guidelines include the PAC reference manual and PAC curriculum.

A 2018 report by the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) stated that unsafe abortions are highly reported among adolescents and youth in universities and colleges.

Police are investigating the case of a Form Three student who was said to have committed suicide in a toilet at the Nairobi Women’s Hospital.

The 17-year-old had been admitted on Friday complaining of stomach pains.

Officials believe she killed herself after learning she was pregnant. Scans revealed she was nine weeks pregnant.

In November last year, the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Board banned Marie Stopes from conducting abortions.

With new guidelines on post-abortion care, and little on abortion itself, Kenya will keep losing more women in their reproductive age as they seek services from quacks in dark alleys.

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KNCHRCaroline MwathaCity Mortuary