In a rare moment of candor, Inkosi Mtwalo of Mzimba has implored fellow chiefs to support enactment of laws allowing women and girls to procure safe abortion in the country.
Mtwalo said this in an interview over the weekend on the sidelines of a consultative meeting aimed at enlightening various stakeholders in Mzuzu on the extent of the problem of unsafe abortions.
Currently, it is illegal to administer or procure an abortion unless the life of a woman is in danger.
Malawi’s Penal Code through sections 149, 150 and 151 respectively criminalises abortion though it has been established that the country loses over K300 million per annum in Post-Abortion Care expenses.
“The status quo has created a breeding ground for an increase in demand for unsafe abortions. This has had a very bad knock-on effect on the country’s maternal mortality agenda,” observed Mtwalo.
He further noted that if left unchecked the country would continue to lose significant amounts of resources on Post- Abortion Care.
“Unfortunately, it is the poor and rural women who bear the brunt of inaccessibility of safe abortions in the country’s health facilities. Yet their rich counterparts can access the services abroad. Besides how effective are the current laws? ” he queried.
Inkosi Mtwalo’s remarks come barely a month after local leaders in Karonga vehemently denied revision of the current laws on abortion arguing it has potential to open the floodgates of sexual immorality.
Ironically many cases of abortion go unprosecuted despite the high figures of women seeking post-abortion care from state and private health facilities.
Medical Aid Society of Malawi (MASM) Senior Gynecologist Edgar Kuchingale stated that on average, three women die every day in the country due to unsafe abortions.
“It is disheartening to see that many women are so desperate for safe abortion. Some women have come to the hospital having pierced their intestines or torn their uterus with sharp objects in an attempt to induce an abortion. This is alarming,” said Kuchingale.
Health statistics indicate that 17 percent of maternal mortality in Malawi is attributable to unsafe abortions, with Mzuzu Central Hospital having 558 admissions due to abortion every year.
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