The maternal mortality ratio is unacceptably high in Africa. Forty per cent of all pregnancy-related deaths worldwide occur in Africa. On average, over 7 women die per 1,000 live births. About 22,000 African women die each year from unsafe abortion, reflecting a high unmet need for contraception. Contraceptive use among women in union varies from 50 per cent in the southern sub-region to less than 10 per cent in middle and western Africa" UNFPA
Early and unwanted childbearing, HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and pregnancy-related illnesses and deaths account for a significant proportion of the burden of illness experienced by women in Africa. Gender-based violence is an influential factor negatively impacting on the sexual and reproductive health of one in every three women. Many are unable to control decisions to have sex or to negotiate safer sexual practices, placing them at great risk of disease and health complications.
According to UNAIDS, there is an estimated of 22.2 million people living with HIV in Sub-Saharan African in 2009, which represents 68% of the global HIV burden. Women are at higher risk than men to be infected by HIV, their vulnerability remains particulary high in the Sub-Saharan Africa and 76% of all HIV women in the world live in this region.
In almost all countries in the Sub-Saharan Africa region, the majority of people living with HIV are women, especially girls and women aged between 15-24. Not only are women more likely to become infected, they are more severely affected. Their income is likely to fall if an adult man loses his job and dies. Since formal support to women are very limited, they may have to give up some income-genrating activities or sacrifice school to take care of the sick relatives.
For more information on HIV/AIDS and Reproductive health, please visit the following websites:
Source: Swazi Media Commentary
A High Court judge in the deeply conservative kingdom of Swaziland (eSwatini) has started a debate about legalising abortion.
Judge Qinisile Mabuza heard a case involving a 26-year-old woman who was accused of causing the death of her four-year-old son, by drowning him in a river.
The eSwatini Observer reported that the child’s father had denied paternity, leaving her to rise the child herself. This prompted the judge to question what provisions were available for women who found themselves in similar situations.
The Swazi Constitution provides that abortion might be allowed on medical or therapeutic grounds, including where a doctor certifies that continued pregnancy will endanger the life or constitute a serious threat to the physical health of the woman; continued pregnancy will constitute a serious threat to the mental health of the woman; there is serious risk that the child will suffer from physical or mental defect of such a nature that the child will be irreparably seriously handicapped.However, no law exists to put the constitutional provisions into effect.
According to the Observer, ‘In her subsequent remarks, she [Judge Mabuza] hinted that she viewed the current situation as shackling women’s autonomy, making an undertaking to tackle the current ban on abortion before she retires from the bench.
‘In fact, the learned judge believes it would be reasonable to allow women to make a decision on whether to perform an abortion.’
The Observer reported, she added some of the rights of women had been addressed through the 2018 Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence Act and it was time that society explored the possibility of legalising abortion as well.
Later, a number of representatives from organisations within Swaziland supported the idea of a debate. Acting Director Bongani Msibi of the Family Life Association of Swaziland (FLAS), a leader in Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights delivery and youth programming in Swaziland, said the illegality of abortion often posed serious risks to women, and that legalisation could help to protect their reproductive and health rights.
Acting Director Zanele Thabede of Women and the Law of Southern Africa (WLSA) said abortion law reform should be discussed. She told the Observer it was important to have meaningful conversations whatever your beliefs about abortion.
Head of the Human Rights and Integrity Commission Sabelo Masuku said the group was in support of the call by the judge to have Swaziland revisit its position on abortion.
Because abortions are illegal in Swaziland it is difficult to say accurately how many are performed in the kingdom. However, in August 2018 the Times of Swaziland reported that every month, nurses at the Raleigh Fitkin Memorial (RFM) Hospital in Manzini attended more than 100 cases of young women who had committed illegal abortions.
The IRIN news agency, quoting FLAS reported that in October 2012 more than 1,000 women were treated for abortion-related complications at a single clinic in Swaziland.
The focus on containing the spread of coronavirus has hit crucial mother-to-child health care services, including family planning and immunisation, research has shown.
Source: CSJ NEWS
Government has an obligation to ensure that no woman should die due to pregnancy-related causes, Chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee on Health, Matthews Ngwale has said.
Source: The Namibian
HEALTH minister Kalumbi Shangula says he can push to legalise abortion in Namibia if he gets enough support from women.
Shangula made these comments in a telephone interview with The Namibian yesterday when he was asked about his stance on legalising abortion in Namibia.
The minister said the issue of legalising the termination of pregnancy on demand must be championed by women themselves because it is their right.
Source: African Feminism
Growing up, I was taught that menstruation was a private affair. I learnt that no one was supposed to know when I was on my period. Everything about how I handled myself during my periods had to be discreet. Nobody was supposed to see my pads; I was to handle them like contraband goods. In-fact supermarkets still wrap pads in newspapers for secrecy.
Source: Daily Nation
Widowed and with four children, Ms Florence Atieno has been living positively with HIV for 10 years now.
Before the Covid-19 pandemic hit the country, Ms Atieno, who lives in Nyalenda slums in Kisumu County, could easily access her antiretroviral therapy drugs (ARVs).
As a registered client at the Kisumu County Referral Hospital, she would pick up her drugs on a monthly basis.
Covid-19 is an unprecedented pandemic in scope and impact. Every facet of human life bears the strain, loss and change occasioned by the pervasive nature of the global emergency. Covid-19 has unfortunately further worsened pre-existing inequalities, discrimination and marginalisation of women and girls in more ways than one.
Source: The Conversation
Amid global commitments to defeat, or at least minimise, the pervasive effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the impact on the African continent remains unclear. African governments have moved quickly to mobilise resources and strengthen their emergency preparedness and response capacities.
But particular attention needs to be paid to the most vulnerable members of the population. There are ongoing discussions on pressing health issues including women’s health.
Pregnant mothers in Nebbi District are giving birth from homes due to lack of transport to health centres during the lockdown, putting their lives and those of unborn babies at risk.