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Abortion, Major Cause Of Maternal Mortality 

By Leocadia Bongben — Many young girls and women indulge in abortion without the slightest notion of the consequences such as complications, infections and deaths. Mbah Cristelle, like most women in the centre region introduced a stuck of baobab through her cervices into the urinary cavity. Shortly after she started bleeding, she was rushed to the hospital with complications and eventually got rid of her pregnancy.

Beatrice Kinyuy used the inner tube of a pen to provoke and terminate her abortion and also ended up in hospital. Besides the above, Potassium permanganate was mainly used for abortion, Dr. Philippe Nana, Lecturer at the Faculty of Medicine and Biomedical  Sciences at the University of Yaounde I, said, while presenting a paper on reproductive health to the Network of Journalists for the implementation of the Maputo Protocol.

These are some of the methods girls and women use to terminate undesired pregnancies, which lead to complications, infections and in some cases deaths. Poverty, rejection and stigmatisation are reasons advanced for risky abortions. Abortion accounts for 15 percent of maternal mortality and is also the cause of 20 million deaths in the world and is the fifthcause of mortality every year. Of these, 60,000 women die from complications.

In Cameroon, abortion is the third cause of maternal mortality after haemorrhage and hypertension. A study conducted at the Yaoundé Central Hospital revealed that 30-40 per cent of maternal mortality was linked to abortions. Maternal mortality in Cameroon is on the rise despite a worldwide drop, and stands at 782 /100,000 up from 679 per 100,000.

Given complications that result from risky abortions, Dr. Nana underscores the need for care after abortion. He maintains that the woman has the right of access to a health centre, quality health care from trained personnel to handle complications and a choice of the different methods of such an operation and aspirators. The Cameroon National Association for Family Welfare, CAMNAFAW, operates one of such centres specialised in women reproductive health.

However, a major reproductive health problem is getting the trained personnel, he says.
Nana regrets that most health centres and hospitals lack the basic necessities such as aspirators. He warned that with the many health centres dotted in every corner of the road, there is need for government to be watchful as to who does what and where. He urged Government to put in place necessary equipment to take care of women after abortions.

Nana stressed that a woman has the right to complete information, pregnancy when she wants, access to family planning and to decide whether to carry the pregnancy or terminate it.
 This is where the Maputo Protocol seems to witness legal difficulties concerning voluntary interruption of pregnancy. The Maputo Protocol was signed in 2006 with the goal of universal and complete access to reproductive health and sexual rights in Africa by 2015. Cameroon ratified the Protocol in 2009.

The issues at stake for are: should a 14-year old girl who is raped be allowed to keep the pregnancy, should a woman whose family planning method has failed be allowed to abort?
Dr. Pierre-MarieTebeu, Gynaecologists at the Yaoundé Teaching Hospital, stresses on the use of contraceptives as a measure of preventing unwanted pregnancies following doctors’ advice.

First published in The Post print edition no 01418