CAMEROON – The Society of Gynaecologists and Obstetricians of Cameroon launches three-year project “Advocacy for Comprehensive Abortion Care” in Yaoundé

The launch of the project on 30 September 2019 includeda ceremony presided over by Prof Mbu Robinson, Director, Department of FamilyHealth, with speeches from President Prof Leke of the Society of Gynaecologistsand Obstetricians of Cameroon (SOGOC) and the focal point of the project DrEko. The vision of the project is in line with the directives of the Ministryof Public Health. Unsafe abortion was identified as a leading cause of maternalmortality. The Government acknowledged they need the support of collaboratorslike SOGOC and others dealing in sexual reproductive health, so as to combat maternaldeaths.

Also attending wererepresentatives of partner institutions, including Cameroon Association forSocial Marketing, RENATA, Cameroon National Association for Family Welfare,Cameroon Association of Women Lawyers, Association of Midwives of Cameroon, andthe No Limit for Women Project.

SOGOC’s mission is to collaboratewith the Cameroon Ministry of Public Health, health-related institutions,partners in reproductive health (national, international), civil society andthe community in order to optimize the standard of practice in obstetrics and gynaecologynationally and ensure that optimum reproductive healthcare is available,accessible and affordable to all women.

Through a three-year Advocacy forComprehensive Abortion Care project, SOGOC intends to tackle issues that stop womenand young girls in Cameroon from having access to comprehensive abortion careservices within the confines of the law. These include:

  • The poor and negative perception ofabortion by health providers, policy makers and the general population whichoften stigmatises those seeking care;
  • Restrictive abortion laws in Cameroon(Penal Code 2007 article 337-339) which stipulate that the provision ofabortions is illegal except if proven necessary to save the mother from gravedanger to her health or when the pregnancy is the result of rape.
  • Ignorance of the existing abortionlaws, norms and protocols by health service providers and the public.
  • Lack of communication about the lawsgoverning abortion in Cameroon.
  • Lack of implementation of the Maputo Protocol,which has been ratified by the president of Cameroon, which allows for abortionin cases of sexual assault, rape, incest, and where the continued pregnancyendangers the mental and physical health of the woman or fetus.
  • Cultural and religious beliefs.
  • Inadequate number of trainedprofessionals who can provide abortion care services.

Existing research data show that over 25% ofmaternal morbidity and mortality in Cameroon, including long-termhealth complications like infertility, is due to unsafe abortions.

SOGOC aims to influence publicperception of comprehensive abortion care through sub-grants for sensitisationcampaigns aimed at adolescents on the negative effects of unsafe abortion; a networkof like-minded stakeholders to promote national advocacy for comprehensiveabortion care; and make at least 200 qualified health personnel more aware ofthe norms and protocols on comprehensive abortion carein Cameroon.

SOURCE: FIGO News +PHOTO, 29 October 2019