Cases of unsafe abortions are on the increase in the country, according to findings of a research on abortion called Incidents of Unsafe Abortion in Malawi by College of Medicine (CoM).
CoM department of obstetric and gynaecology senior lecturer Chisale Mhango, who is part of the research team whose results are yet to be released, gave the hint on new statistics after making his presentation during an abortion sensitisation meeting organised by Coalition for the Prevention of Unsafe Abortion (Copua).
He said the research is at an advanced stage and the picture shows a rise in number of females risking their lives with unsafe abortion between 2009 and 2016.
Said Mhango: “We are not ready to reveal the figures, but the findings show the number of females who seek unsafe abortions continues to increase. We need to do something to stop the practice.”
The last report on abortion titled Magnitude and Incidences of Unsafe Abortion released in 2009 by Ministry of Health (MoH) said over 70 000 girls and women seek abortions every year and about half of them seek unsafe abortions.
Said Mhango: “It is sad that we continue to grapple with unsafe abortions when our friends in Canada and USA, among other countries, dealt with the problem many years ago. The best way is to legalise abortion so that we protect our girls and women from resorting to unsafe abortions.”
Mhango, one of the people who initiated the Termination of Pregnancy Bill when he was director of reproductive health services in MoH, dismissed assertions that legalising abortion will influence many to abort, saying the opposite has been achieved across the border.
In his remarks, Copua policy advisor Luke Tembo appealed to political party members to influence their members of Parliament (MPs) to consider supporting the Bill when tabled in Parliament during the next meeting as figures on unsafe abortions are scary.
He added that many well-to-do women access safe abortions in hospitals, but the ones highly affected are the poor girls and women in the village who cannot afford paid-for abortion.
Senior Chief Lukwa of Kasungu, a board member of Copua, wondered why progress was slow on the issue, saying if abortion affected men by now it could have been legalised.
The meeting was attended by political party leaders from Eastern and Southern regions. It was being held concurrently with another one in Mzuzu also patronised by political party members from Central and Northern regions.