GHANA – More than 50% of all pregnancies in Ghana are unintended

Researchers from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Ghana and Johns Hopkins University and the Guttmacher Institute in the USA presented data on unsafe abortion at a workshop in Accra, Ghana, on 27 October, with findings that the government is being asked to take note of. The workshop was chaired by the Director of the Family Health Division, Ghana Health Service, Dr Kofi Issah.

These were some of the findings: first, 53% of all pregnancies, i.e. over 767,200 pregnancies each year, in Ghana are unintended. Second, an estimated 23% of all pregnancies in Ghana ended in abortion. Third, an estimated 71% of all abortions in Ghana would be considered illegal. The latter is in spite of the fact that the abortion law is considered liberal. Fourth, unsafe abortions contributed substantially to Ghana’s high maternal mortality, which was estimated at 310 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births in 2017. Both unintended pregnancy rates and abortion rates varied considerably between the country’s three ecological zones. Fifth, 25.5% of women who had an illegal induced abortion in 2017 received treatment for complications in a health facility.

Stakeholders in the health sector called on the government and non-governmental partners to reduce the burden of unsafe abortion by educating the public on the country’s abortion laws. there is the need for women to know abortion is legal under certain circumstances in Ghana. The government and its partners were urged to disseminate information on how and where to obtain safe, legal abortion services and also expand access to legal safe abortion services as well as post-abortion care. In addition, they called for improved contraceptive services through the offering of a wide range of methods and high-quality counselling services. They were also urged to train lower-level healthcare workers to provide comprehensive abortion care services and improve contraceptive services

They want the Minister of Health and the Ghana Health Service to ensure that national comprehensive abortion care guidelines are available and implemented in all health facilities. In addition, the government and non-governmental partners are being charged to continue to expand access to safe, legal abortion services and post-abortion care by increasing the number of trained providers and approved facilities that offer these services in order to reduce complications and deaths from unsafe abortion.

SOURCES: Ghana Business News, by GNA, 28 October 2020 ; Modern Ghana, by Eric Nana Yaw Kwafo, + VISUAL, 28 October 2020