Kenya Ministry of Health releases study, voices support for comprehensive abortion care under the new constitution

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Last week in Nairobi, the Kenyan Ministry of Health released the findings from a national study undertaken in 2012 that estimated the number of abortions annually in Kenya, the extent of unsafe abortion, the characteristics of women who seek abortion-related care in Kenyan health facilities and the quality of care available.

“This report is a wake-up call on the reality of unsafe abortions in Kenya and the need to urgently find a lasting solution to this preventable cause of maternal morbidity and mortality,” said Dr. Francis Kimani, the Ministry’s Director of Medical Services.  

In Kenya, unsafe abortion has long been recognized as a leading cause of death and injury to women—deaths and injuries that are preventable. Most abortions result from unintended pregnancies, which, as in most of Africa, continue to be extremely high throughout Kenya.

The study, conducted by the African Population and Health Research Center, with other Kenyan partners and support from Ipas and the Guttmacher Institute, found that nearly 465,000 induced abortions occurred in 2012, translating to a high national abortion rate of 48 per 1,000 women of reproductive age (15- 49 years). This rate is comparable to Uganda’s, but much higher than other countries in Africa or elsewhere in the world.

The findings also reveal that complications from unsafe abortion continue to pose a serious threat to Kenyan women’s health. Nearly 120,000 women received care in health facilities for complications resulting from unsafe abortions in 2012. More shocking is that young women suffered disproportionately, noted Dr. Kimani during the study launch on August 21, as 45 percent of women aged 19 and younger who came to a health facility for postabortion care had experienced severe complications

"It is clear from the evidence that improving women's access to affordable and effective family planning and contraception is key to preventing unintended pregnancy and unsafe abortions," Dr. Kimani said.

Dr. Kimani strongly voiced the Ministry of Health's commitment to reduce deaths and injuries from unsafe abortion and to work within the provisions of the law to help women seeking abortion as well as to implement policies to reduce unwanted pregnancies.

The study release and findings received broad media coverage throughout Kenya and overseas, including:

The Standard

KTN Sunrise Live television

Voice of America

 Mother Jones