Ethiopia to host Africa regional conference on abortion

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The Africa Regional Conference on Abortion: From Research to Policy started on Tuesday (29/11/16) and finishes on Friday, 2 December 2016, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. According to organisers, the Guttmacher Institute, African Population and Health Research Centre and Ipas, the conference ‘builds on a decade of work linking research to action to reduce unsafe abortion in sub-Saharan Africa.’

The three-day event brings together 250 researchers, policymakers, advocates, healthcare providers, youth, journalists, and donors who are focusing on reducing the detrimental impact of unsafe abortion on African women, especially young women and adolescents, as well as on their families and on society as a whole.

According to figures from the organisers, an estimated 56 million abortions occur each year worldwide. The proportion of abortions that are performed under unsafe conditions is not currently known. ‘However, complications from unsafe abortions are common in developing regions, where the procedure is often highly restricted. In Africa, women have more than eight million abortions each year, many of which are unsafe.’

About 1.6 million women in the region are treated annually for complications from unsafe abortion – many women experience complications and do not receive the treatment they need. According to the most recent estimates, at least 9% of maternal deaths in Africa annually are due to unsafe abortion.

It is estimated that 90% of African women of childbearing age live in countries with restrictive abortion laws, and even where the law allows abortion under certain circumstances, few women are able to navigate the processes required to obtain a safe and legal procedure.

Unsafe abortion is a major public health problem, not only in countries where access to safe abortion is highly restricted, but also where it is legally allowed. The conference will highlight findings from research studies and how they have contributed to changes in policy and practice, as well as improvements in abortion policy and programmes, during the last decade.

The conference also celebrates more than a decade since passage of the law in Ethiopia that decriminalised abortion and paved the way for a national safe abortion programme under a broad set of conditions.

In 2005, the Ethiopian Parliament enacted one of Africa’s most progressive abortion laws. A year later, the Ethiopian Ministry of Health released guidelines for safe abortion services, making major progress toward implementing revisions of the country’s abortion law.

‘The conveners hope that this important meeting will allow us to capitalise on what came before and continue to move forward,’ Organisers said. ‘We know that the more than 200 attendees at this conference, along with their organisations and partners, will continue to build the evidence to support ending unsafe abortion in all parts of Africa.’

This story was sourced from the Addis Standard website.

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