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Seven million women in one year treated for complications from unsafe abortions

Complications from unsafe abortions can lead to chronic disability.

Image: woman in bed via Shutterstock

A STUDY ON healthcare for women in developing countries who have unsafe abortions has estimated that almost seven million are treated for complications.

It is already well established that 800 women a day die from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth and unsafe abortions account for between eight and 15% of maternal deaths. It remains one of the leading causes of maternal mortality worldwide.

However, these figures do not take into account the number of women who are surviving but need hospital treatment. This study, conducted by the Guttmacher Institute in the US and published today in BJOG, analysed data from 26 countries in the developing world to calculate the number of women attending hospital for treatment after unsafe aborions.

Highest in Asia and Africa

Results found that the highest rate of treatment after unsafe abortion was in Pakistan, with rates of 14.6 per 1000 women aged between 15 and 44. The lowest treatment rate was found in Brazil with 2.4 per 1000 women.

The regional rate is likely to be highest in Asia at 8.2 per 1000 women or 4.6 million women per year, followed by Africa with 1.6 million women a year. Around 40% of women with abortion complications do not seek or get care and this means actual numbers are likely much higher.

Chronic disability

Researchers said that at a minimum women in developing countries need appropriate medical procedures on an emergency basis and contraceptive counselling services to prevent future unintended pregnancies.

“We already know that around 22 million unsafe abortions take place each year, resulting in the death of at least 22,000 women,” commented lead author Dr Susheela Singh.

Our study provides further evidence about the number of women who suffer injury as a result of complications due to unsafe abortion, often leading to chronic disability. These statistics represent only part of the problem as they do not include women who need care but do not visit health facilities.

“The provision of better reproductive healthcare, including access to family planning services, contraception and safe abortion where the law allows, would have significant economic benefits as well as improving the health and wellbeing of women and their families.”

Read: Woman in China avoids prison for ten years by getting pregnant 13 times>

Read: Girl (11) denied abortion after being raped gives birth>

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