Nairobi, 28 September 2020. Today, International Planned Parenthood Federation Africa Region (IPPFAR) joins the rest of the world in celebrating the International Safe Abortion Day under the theme: “Telemedicine, self-managed abortion and access to safe abortion in the context of COVID-19 pandemic”.
According to WHO and Guttmacher, at least 25 million unsafe abortions occurred every year between 2010 and 2014. Majority (97%) of these were in developing countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. This is a major public health concern in these parts of the world where restrictive abortion laws and policies are the norm, resulting in preventable maternal deaths due to rampant incidences of unsafe abortion. Yet, restricting a woman’s ability to choose to end an unwanted pregnancy is a violation of her human rights.
The unprecedented COVID-19 situation has severely impacted access to safe abortion in countries where favourable policies exist. With stretched health systems, diversion of resources to the COVID-19 response, disruptions in commodity supplies (including contraceptive products) and limited access to services, women's needs for sexual and reproductive health care, including contraception and safe abortion have been greatly affected.
At IPPFAR, through our Member Associations, we are innovating with new service delivery models of telemedicine and self-care approaches that address women and girls’ contraception and safe abortion needs in this era of the pandemic. For example, our IPPF MA in Togo began booking clients and providing services through a toll-free teleconsultation service, which has facilitated clients’ access to services when they face challenges travelling to clinics owing to movement restrictions. The approach has further eased client flow in clinics at this time of social distancing. Additionally, the youth friendly ‘InfoAdoJeunes’ mobile application continues to provide information and remote counselling services for young people.
The extensive usage of social media and other digital platforms, for example, in Cameroon, Kenya, Guinea, Ethiopia, and Togo have been effective in disseminating information about abortion and contraception, and to advertise other services available at the clinics.
As the world celebrates this day, we call on African governments to domesticate, disseminate and implement provisions of the African Union Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa. Commonly known as the Maputo Protocol, this instrument remains one of the most progressive legal instruments providing a comprehensive set of human rights for African women. We also call on other member states who have not signed nor ratified to do so.
IPPFAR and its Member Associations recommit to provide safe abortion services where permissible by law.
-Maryanne Wanyama, IPPFARO, Nairobi (Kenya) – Email: [email protected]
-Sam Ntelamo, Resident Representative, International Planned Parenthood Federation, Liaison Office to the African Union & UNECA, Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) – Phone: +251 (11) 667 0699/0761 - Mobile +251 (0) 944 73 2051- Email: [email protected]