NEPAL – Bajura, a remote district in the far western hills of Nepal, has fared well in terms of safe abortion

According to local government records, as many as 875 women received safe abortion services through government-run health centres in the Bajura district in the past 18 months. Of the total 28 local health centres in the district, 15 have been providing abortion service to women. Only complicated cases are sent to the district hospital. The Bajura District Hospital Chief, Dr Rupchandra Bishwokarma, found these data encouraging. In the past, women would commonly use unsafe ways to end unwanted pregnancy, but as the safer facilities have been made accessible, they have started seeking medical help for abortion. “This is a testimony to an increase in women’s accessibility to health centres and their growing level of awareness.” He also said that the district hospital has ensured that safe motherhood and abortion services are provided at the grassroots levels. For that, local units have been alerted and local health centres mobilized. Women and girls who used to go to private clinics for abortion have also been found to have opted for government health centres. “This is happening because abortion service is cheap as well as safe in health centres operated by the government,” he claimed. And traditional unsafe methods are disappearing.

Earlier, only clinical abortion services were available for women. These days, abortion pills re available, even in rural areas, including Bajura.

One woman from the Triveni Municipality expressed happiness over “unexpectedly low expenses” for her abortion. “Earlier, I had to spend a lot of time and money. Even my health deteriorated due to excess bleeding,” she said. She had gone to Martadi town the last time to seek abortion. Even after spending a hefty amount, she was not satisfied with the service provided by the private clinic. Recently, her abortion was handled by a skilled doctor at Kailashmandu Health Post and the service was free.

Another woman from the same municipality had a similar experience. “Abortion service at local health post is a boon for women,” she said. “Even after having required number of children women still get pregnant as family planning is not so common. Then they seek abortion service. But when such services are not easily available, women feel tortured.”

SOURCE: My Republica, by Krishna Oli, 17 November 2019 ; PHOTO: by Prakash Singh/THT