Journalists challenged to educate public on existing safe abortion framework

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Journalists challenged to educate public on existing safe abortion framework

Lusaka, Aug 22/14, ZANIS—–IPAS Zambia Country Director, Felicia Sakala, has called on journalists in the country to vigorously create public awareness on the existing legal framework on safe abortion and help reduce maternal mortality.

Ms Sakala says the media have the potential to help people make informed decisions on the legality of safe abortion based on the country’s legal framework on abortion of which a large populace in the country are still ignorant. 

Speaking during the official opening of a two day training of journalists on better coverage of reproductive health issues in Lusaka, Ms Sakala said unsafe abortions have remained a major threat to the provision of maternal health care services.

“Journalists have a vital role to educate the public on abortion and help them make informed decisions on safe abortion methods that exist in the country to avoid deaths resulting from unsafe abortion,” she said.

She bemoaned the lack of accurate information among the members of public on the legality of safe abortion as enshrined in the Zambian Termination of Pregnancy (TOP) Act of 1993.

Ms Sakala said people have continued to debate on the legality of abortion in Zambia due to lack of information on the provisions of the TOP Act, yet unsafe abortions have remained rampant claiming the lives of many women.

“Every four hours a woman dies from unsafe abortion. This is because most women shun away from accessing safe abortions due to lack of adequate information on the existing sexual reproductive health services that health providers offer in this regard,” she said

Ms Sakala said talking about abortion among people in society has remained a taboo thereby leading to increased misconceptions on safe abortion.

She said reproductive health education must start at family level to facilitate informed decision making but challenged journalists to enhance their reporting skills on reproductive health issues to help address maternal mortality in the country.

Meanwhile, Reproductive Health Researcher, Ernestina Coast, says unsafe abortions cost the health systems huge sums of money that could be used on provision of other health services.

Dr Coast said the research results obtained from reproductive health research in Zambia show that health systems spend about US$52 per unsafe abortion case as opposed to the US$38 spent on each safe abortion conducted.

She added that journalists are a major partner in the reproductive health research process and must provide sufficient information to the public on the findings of the research being conducted by IPAS.