Unsafe induced abortions have been identified as a significant contributor to maternal morbidity and mortality in Ghana. Dr. Susan Ama Amuasi, a Lecturer and Reproductive Health Expert at Central University, has stated that the high rates of unsafe abortions in Ghana pose a serious public health concern.
Dr. Amuasi explains that unsafe abortions are usually performed under unsafe conditions by untrained persons using invasive and dangerous methods. These abortions are vastly underreported and probably unreported, which adds to the public health concern.
The 2017 Ghana Maternal Health Survey indicates that most pregnancies among women aged 15 to 49 ended in a live birth, with 2% resulting in a stillbirth, 12% in a miscarriage, and 10% in an induced abortion. Unsafe abortions are the second leading cause of maternal mortality in Ghana, with teenage girls bearing the brunt of this crisis.
According to data from the Ghana Health Service, there were 7,618 abortions recorded among teenage girls in 2022, translating to about 21 abortions (both safe and unsafe) per day of the year. The year 2020, 2021, and 2022 recorded a total of 24,108 abortions among teenage girls, which account for about 60% of all abortions recorded in those years.
Dr. Amuasi recommends that contraceptives and safe abortion services be made available and easily accessible to women, especially in rural communities. She also stresses the need for sexuality education to help young people make informed decisions about their sexual and reproductive health.
The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that each year, between 4.7% to 13.2% of maternal deaths can be attributed to unsafe abortion. The WHO further notes that around seven million women are admitted to hospitals every year in developing countries because of unsafe abortions. The annual cost of treating major complications from unsafe abortion is estimated at US$ 553 million.
Dr. Amuasi emphasizes that almost every abortion death can be prevented through education, the use of effective contraception, the provision of safe and legal abortions, timely care for complications, and empowering females, especially young girls. She also highlights the importance of proper parental care to reduce unsafe abortions leading to deaths, especially among adolescents.
In conclusion, the high rates of unsafe induced abortions in Ghana pose a serious public health concern, with teenage girls bearing the brunt of this crisis. Providing safe abortion services and intensifying sexuality education can help prevent unsafe abortions and reduce maternal morbidity and mortality rates. It is time for Ghana to take urgent and effective action to address this alarming public health issue.