Quacks in Kenya and 375,000 pregnancies annually

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Unsafe abortions in Nairobi, Kenya are on the rise, with backstreet operators killing about 2600 women annually, way above the number killed by cervical cancer last year.

The Ministry of Health says about half a million abortions are procured in Kenya annually, with an estimated 375,000 done in the backstreets.

A team, led by Joyce Mumah of the African Population and Health Research Centre (APHRC), says the backstreet operators not only kill women and girls, but also maim thousands of others.

Last year, 2451 women in the country died from cervical cancer according to the World Health Organization’s Human Papilloma virus Information Centre.

The demand for abortion, says Joachim Osur of Amref Health Africa, has given rise to a highly sophisticated network of illicit but life-taking abortion services.

The network, which Dr. Osur details in a recent survey, is complete with an enviable referral system involving schoolgirls, their mothers and grandmothers, teachers, policemen, brokers, midwives, herbalists, and health workers.

‘The school system has been infiltrated by illegal abortion providers who have planted agents to direct pregnant girls to them,’ Osur said. Schools, he says, are the most fertile grounds from where to recruit clients.

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