Forty five per cent of women with severe abortion complications are aged 19 years or younger, are students or are divorced.
A reproductive health report released on Wednesday shows that more than three-quarters of women who sought post-abortion care were treated for moderate or severe complications, including high fever, sepsis, shock, or organ failure, which can require extensive treatment or hospitalisation.
Led by the African Population and Health Research, the report shows that an estimated 465,000 abortions took place in Kenya in 2012, virtually all of them “clandestine” and unsafe procedures, and most resulting from unintended pregnancies.
Kenyatta National Hospital head of Reproductive Health Department John Ong’ech on Thursday corroborated the study findings citing that the women who sought medical help were from backstreet clinics.
“Very crude instruments are used, such as pieces of wood, pens, wires from clothes hangers while others drink concoctions which are believed to end the pregnancy,” Dr Ong’ech told the Nation in an interview on Thursday.
Some of the cases brought to Kenyatta National Hospital include rotten and perforated uteruses, infections while in other cases the patients are in shock following bleeding induced by unsafe abortion, Dr Ong’ech said.
When these fail or they develop complications they run to hospital. But for some it is already too late and end up losing their uterus or even lives, added Dr Ong’ech, who is also an assistant director at the national referral hospital.
Social scientists caution that abortion creates a cycle of psychological torture for both the abortionist and her family and friends.
“After the complications have been managed, some women are infertile or have post-abortion stress syndrome and require counselling,” said Dr Ong’ech.
According to the report, the longer a woman took to seek medical help the higher the chances that the complications were severe.