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Stigma blamed for high rise of post-abortion deaths

Written by Valentine Atieno

Experts have noted with concern that the five major killers of pregnant women have not been tackled. Among these is stigma and fear of abortion which is a silent killer.

In achieving the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) number five, experts note that the five must be addressed. They also say that unsafe abortion must be given prominence because of the silence over its role as the major cause of the stigma.


Speaking in Kisumu, Monica Oguttu, chief executive officer Kisumu Medical and Education Trust (KMET) said unsafe abortion was the easiest to prevent and manage among the major killers of pregnant women.

“Being the most easy to prevent, it is given the least attention because of the perception people have about it. The stigma around the practice has killed many women silently,” noted Oguttu, referring to a recent study that is out to detect issues surrounding abortion stigma, underlying
causes and people’s perception about girls who undertake abortion.

“The public are not well informed on unsafe abortion and health practitioners giving the services lack information on the subject and hence end up  stigmatising their clients,” she said.

Oguttu noted that the number of people seeking post-abortion care from health facilities was on the rise because of the evergrowing number of unqualified health practitioner performing illegal abortions in the country.

“When quacks perform abortions, the poor quality services become expensive for those seeking help from them hence resulting in stigma from the  community,” explains Oguttu.


Echoing these sentiments, Caroline Nyandat, a reproductive health practitioner, notes that women who have undergone unsafe abortion should go for post-abortion care as it is an important emergency intervention.

She further indicates that the study was aiming at reaching communities, health practitioners and pharmacists who sell the drugs used to procure abortions. It will be conducted in Siaya, Kisii, Kakamega and Vihiga in Western Kenya.

The KSh1.7 million collaborative study is being conducted by Kisumu Medical and Educational Trust (KMET) and is funded by the IPAS.

Nyandat announced that safety, efficacy and effectiveness of medical treatment of incomplete abortion provided to women by physicians or  midwives in Kenya would be incorporated into the study.

Reports show that most of the women and girls were going to the quacks for the services but were not accessing post-abortion care services at various health care facilities because abortion is illegal in the country.

Nationally, Nyanza is leading in teenage pregnancy resulting in a high rate of unsafe abortion. Preliminary findings by KMET on abortion stigma through a survey conducted over the last six months indicate that the practice was on the rise because most health practitioners were not well informed on  the subject. 

This article was originally published in the

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