May 26, 2015 By Regina Pratt
With support from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Marie Stopes Sierra Leone last Friday held a one-day validation workshop on post abortion guidelines for medical staff at the Princess Christian Maternity Hospital (PCMH), Fourah Bay Road, Freetown.
In his opening remarks, Programme Manager for Reproductive Health and Family Planning, Dr. Sulaiman Conteh, said the validation of the draft guidelines was significant as it would help guide health workers on the issue of safe abortion.
Abortion is a recurrent topic in the lives of most teenagers. At least 34% of teenagers die while giving birth worldwide, he said, adding that most of the victims die because of unwanted pregnancy and for using unsafe abortion methods.
Dr. Conteh averred that the Ministry of Health and partners were acting to ensure care for patients and workers, and that trainings would be done on how to respond to issues of abortion especially as the rubber tubes manual vacuum aspiration (MVA) would now be employed instead of the D&C sharp instrument.
He disclosed that to respond to abortion care in the country the Health Ministry had introduced a safe method of the use of CEMONC in hospitals and the BEMONC, which is used in Peripheral Health Units, to reduce the risk of unsafe abortion.
He said the validated document would be sent to Cabinet and subsequently Parliament for enactment, adding that such was stipulated in the Maputo agreement, which lays key benchmarks for addressing health challenges on the continent.
Dr. Conteh said the restrictive 1861 laws on abortion still exist, stating that abortion was illegal, although it could be done on medical advice if the pregnancy was life threatening.
He said an assessment by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology in 20 communities had revealed that approximately 1,165 teenagers were pregnant.
Dr. Conteh said they would train health personnel in 10 PHUs per district on the use of the new method.
Dr. A.P. Koroma, Medical Superintendent at the PCMH, who was also the lead trainer, said the policy guide would help reduce unsafe abortion because of prompt treatment.
- He said the training would involve nurses at PHUs, midwives, and other health workers, to teach them skills in using the new method, noting that they lack adequate human resources.