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Report says 700,000 women faced post-abortion complications in 2012

Updated August 24, 2013

ISLAMABAD, Aug 23: In 2012, 700,000 women in Pakistan faced complications while undergoing an abortion. To avoid these complications, use of contraceptives should be encouraged because 25 per cent of women want to delay pregnancy but do not use contraceptives and are at a risk of unwanted pregnancies.

This was stated in a report titled “Post-Abortion Care in Pakistan: A National Study,” conducted by the Population Council and launched on Friday.

The study targeted 266 hospitals of the country and also interviewed 102 health professionals and 44 women who had recently went through an abortion.

It found that last year, 700,000 women had abortions using unsafe methods or with the assistance of unskilled service providers.

Furthermore, several hospitals lacked adequate equipment and supplies to provide quality care and the majority was unable to provide round-the-clock services to manage severe complications.

The private sector played an important role in this regard as more than 60 per cent of all abortion cases were treated by practitioners in the private sector, the report said.

It added that the current law in Pakistan permits abortion to save a woman’s life and to provide “necessary treatment.” However, due to legal restrictions and lack of clarity among women, people are forced to seek abortion from untrained health experts.

The report recommended better post-abortion care and use of safer treatment methods.

Furthermore, it said better health facilities equipped with the latest technology in both public and private sectors should be ensured.

Furthermore, a national consensus on training and capacity building was recommended. Similarly, facilities which provide post-abortion care should also offer a range of contraceptive services in the immediate vicinity, it said.

Minister of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination (NHSRC) Saira Afzal Tarar, while speaking to participants of the ceremony, said there was an urgent need for policies and planning at the highest levels to tackle the issues raised in the report.

She suggested a pool of nurses and other midlevel providers should be trained to provide specialised post-abortion care.

Dr. Zeba A. Sathar, the Population Council’s country director, and the report’s co-authors Dr Gul Rashida, Dr Zakir Shah and Iram Kamran, presented their findings.