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Doctors in Kenya’s public hospitals left to carry the ball after abortions

ELDORET: Doctors and nurses at public hospitals in the North Rift region have raised concern over the rising cases of abortion in the region, saying several life-threatening incidents have been referred to the Government facilities after attempts to abort go awry.

An average of three to five women are forced to seek treatment at the Kapsabet County Referral Hospital per week after botched abortions.

At least one woman dies monthly for late treatment after shying away from seeking medical care.

Killer clinics that procure unsafe abortions have mushroomed in Nandi County, where they draw most of the clientèle from teenagers in secondary schools and colleges.

Dr Ishmael Aiyabei, the county's referral hospital medical superintendent, revealed the challenge the main hospital in the county faces daily while treating such patients.

"The patients normally resort to the hospital for medical help after they have been induced with different drugs, with others having used traditional herbs and piercing metals but the foetus is not fully removed," he said.

He added: "Some hide in pain and only come to hospital after they have contracted fatal infections, where they succumb."

Aiyabei explained the difficulty the health sector has undergone trying to identify the source of the medicine and abortion clinics, saying patients have gone to the extent of hiding the rogue doctors and clinics.

"They seem like they took vows of silence. They prefer to keep the abortion doctors a secret," said the medical superintendent.

The clinics are mostly located in single rooms. One clinic openly offered abortion herbs at Sh2,000 to an undercover reporter.

"Nitakutolea ya miezi tatu na shilingi elfu mbili, (It will cost you Sh2,000 to abort a three-month-old fetus)," said the herbalist.

Tucked in a building along Kapsabet showground road, the premises come across like your usual herbal clinic. "Once you get there, the attendant will ask you how old your pregnancy is, after which they are willing to do it if it is below five months," said one of the women who sought their services. She said the clinic then gives one a concoction of herbal medicine, with a promise that the unborn baby will come out in less than a day.

"They will give you an option to go and cook the herbs or you take the already cooked in liquid form," said the source. She said her friend who procured an abortion recently at the clinic developed complications and had to be hospitalised for three weeks.

The clinics increase their client base through referrals, where women who have had successful abortions refer their friends to the clinics.

"Some are promised a 'percentage cut' for any abortion client they refer," said Aiyabei.

He further blamed parents and particularly mothers for increased unsafe abortions, saying they finance and deliver girls to quacks for abortions.

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