UGANDA  – Gulu district struggling with unsafe abortions 

The Gulu district health department says it is battling with unsafe abortions due to the persistent increase in teenage pregnancies. Statistics from the Gulu district and City health departments indicate that a total of 474 cases of unsafe abortions among teenage girls were registered between 2020 and 2021. The statistics were obtained from the Inpatient and Outpatient departments at the different health facilities within Gulu district and city. Of the cases, 336 were recorded in 2020 and 138 in 2021.
The same statistics indicate that Gulu district and city registered 5,505 cases of teenage pregnancies in the same period, 2,929 in 2020 and 2,576 in 2021.

Yoweri Idiba, the acting health officer of Gulu district, said that the majority of the teenage girls aged between 15 and 19 years sought post-abortion care at the different health facilities after failed attempts to terminate their pregnancies. Some of them were found to have purchased pills for abortion from pharmacies and drug shops while others used sharp materials to destroy the fetus.

The number of unsafe abortions among teenage girls has been attributed to the impacts of the coronavirus lockdown, which led to the closure of all learning institutions and economic hardships which exposed young girls to sexual abuse and hence, unwanted pregnancies.

However, since abortion in Uganda is illegal unless performed by a licensed medical doctor in a situation where the woman’s life is deemed to be at risk, it seems unlikely that the pandemic is the only cause of this problem .

SOURCE: The Independent Uganda + File photo, 31 December 2021