The World Health Organisation (WHO) has recommended that health workers do not need the consent of women’s partners before carrying out safe abortions.
In its newly released guidelines to help prevent over 25 million unsafe abortions that occur each year, the health body also called for its decriminalisation in Nigeria and other African countries.
“Alongside the clinical and service delivery recommendations, the guidelines recommend removing medically unnecessary policy barriers to safe abortion.”
It highlighted the barriers as “criminalisation, mandatory waiting times, the requirement that approval must be given by other people (e.g., partners or family members) or institutions, and limits on when during pregnancy an abortion can take place.”
WHO said these barriers lead to critical delays and put women at great risks of unsafe abortion, stigmatisation, and health complications.
It added, “It can also increase disruptions to education and their ability to work.”
The global health body said the new guidelines consolidated guidelines bring together over 50 recommendations spanning clinical practice, health service delivery, and legal and policy interventions to support quality abortion care.
It said the guidelines also include recommendation of primary care level interventions that can improve the quality of abortion care.
“These include task sharing by a wider range of health workers; ensuring access to medical abortion pills, which mean more women can obtain safe abortion services, and making sure that accurate information on care is available to all those who need it.”
WHO said deaths resulting from unsafe abortions were very high in Africa.
“Most of these deaths are concentrated in lower-income countries – with over 60 per cent in Africa and 30 per cent in Asia – and among those living in the most vulnerable situations.”
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