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Gulu district grappling with unsafe abortions

Teenage pregancy is on the increase in Gulu due to increased shutdown on schools

GULU, UGANDA: The Gulu district health department is battling with unsafe abortions due to persistent increase in teenage pregnancies.

Statistics from the Gulu district and City health departments indicate that a total of 474 cases of unsafe abortions among teenage girls were registered between 2020 and 2021.

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The statistics were obtained from the Inpatient and Outpatient departments at the different health facilities within Gulu district and city. Of the cases, 336 were recorded in 2020 and 138 in 2021.

The same statistics indicate that Gulu district and city registered 5,505 cases of teenage pregnancies between the same period. 2,929 cases were registered in the year 2020, while 2,576 cases were registered in 2021.

Yoweri Idiba, the acting health officer of Gulu district says that the majority of the teenage girls aged between 15 and 19 years sought post-abortion care at the different health facilities after failed attempts to terminate their pregnancies.

He explains that some of them were examined to be purchasing pills for abortion from pharmacies and drug shops while others use sharp materials to destroy the fetus.

The alarming unsafe abortions among teenage girls have been attributed to the impacts of the coronavirus lockdown which led to the closure of all learning institutions and economic hardships which exposed young girls to sexual abuse hence unwanted pregnancies.

Vicky Atim, the Gulu LCV vice-chairperson who expressed concerns over the figures said that they seek to draft policies against those procuring abortions.

Abortion in Uganda is illegal unless performed by a licensed medical doctor in a situation where the woman’s life is deemed to be at risk.

With women lacking access to safe and legal abortions, many of them turn to unsafe abortion practices such as self-induced abortions.

The Penal Code Act penalizes abortion. However, section 22 (2) of the Constitution provides for the termination of the unborn through the performance of the surgical procedures to save the mother.

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