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Banned abortion drug still in use - doctor

Health & Science
 Ministry of Heath's productive health boss Joel Gondi at a Milimani court on Tuesday. [George Njunge, Standard]

A banned abortion drug is still in use in hospitals, a court heard yesterday.

On February 24, 2014, the Health ministry issued a memo banning all healthcare workers from participating in any training on safe abortion and the use of Medabon.

Medabon is a combination of two Mifepristone and Misoprostol. 

Yesterday, the ministry's reproductive health boss Joel Gondi was asked to explain why the drug was still in use.

He told the High Court that there was a need to clarify the memo in order to lift the ban.

Contradicting the memo, Dr Gondi said there was a need to have medical practitioners trained on safe abortions so that they can to handle cases at the primary level of health facilities.

“We should update the memo to reflect the correct position. It's necessary to have training on safe abortion forhealth practitioners and also doctors who are furthering their studies,” he said.

Gondi appeared as a State witness before Justices Aggrey Muchelule, George Odunga, John Mativo, Lydiah Achode and Mumbi Ngugi.

It also emerged that a 15-year-old girl who is at the centre of the case died last month. She had been allegedly fighting a chronic kidney disease. The girl, coded named JMM, the Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA-Kenya) and the Centre for Reproductive Rights had gone to court seeking orders to allow the Government to issue guidelines for safe abortions. 

 Dr Wahome Ngari, a witness for Kenya Christian Professional Forum, said World Health Organisation rules dictate that Mifepristone should only be allowed in a country where the culture allows abortion on demand.

 JMM's lawyer asked the court to allow her mother, PKM, to now step in her shoes for the case to proceed. Other lawyers were not opposed to the prayer, which the court granted.

“On June 10, 2018 we lost the natural petitioner. She died in Kisii. We have limited grant so that her mother can represent her estate,” the court heard.

It also emerged that since the ban, hospitals had been conducting safe abortions and offering post-abortion care without guidelines.

Gondi claimed the girl procured an illegal abortion, although being a defilement victim gave her the right to terminate the pregnancy. The girl realised she was pregnant in the second month.

PMK said her daughter was withdrawn and did not talk about the pregnancy. A roommate introduced her to a chemist attendant said to be a doctor and she paid Sh1,500 to terminate the pregnancy.

Religious organisations' stand on abortion also featured in Gondi’s four-hour examination.

The court heard that Christians and Muslims attended consultative meetings on the contested guidelines and were in agreement that they were necessary.

According to the doctor, the issue of abortion was contentious and in one of the meetings stakeholders did not discuss any changes.

It was claimed that the guidelines were withdrawn on the request of faith-based complaints.

Dr Ngari opposed the reinstatement of the guidelines, saying there were ways of managing pregnancies, including giving unwanted babies up for adoption.

“Abortion is illicit and therefore providing facilities where our children can access it does not make sense,” he said.

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