Lamu County health committee raises red flag on unsafe abortions

A pregnant schoolgirl. PHOTO COURTESY

Lamu, KENYA: Careless and unsafe abortions among young women are the leading cause of maternal, newborn and infant deaths in Lamu county.

This is according to a recent report by the Lamu County Assembly Committee on Health.

The committee ascertained that due to societal and religious pressures that require unmarried women to remain virgins and childless until after wedlock, many who find themselves pregnant before then more often than not end up committing unsafe abortions to meet up to the expectations.

Speaking in Lamu on earlier in the week,the Committee chairperson James Komu said many such young girls use just about anything to get rid of the unwanted pregnancies and in the long run, end up with lifetime scars that cost them their lives and those of their babies when the time comes for them to have kids.

Komu said many girls and young women end up dying during the abortion process alongside their unborn babies.

Lamu is among 15 counties in the country with leading maternal and infant deaths according to the Kenya Demographic Survey of 2014.

The committee recommended that the county government hire more public health workers who will go around schools and create awareness among school girls and educate them on the need to stay away from sex until they are married.

“If they don’t have sex before marriage, then definitely we won’t have them dying in their numbers due to unsafe abortions. We have made the necessary recommendations which will hopefully be adopted by the county government so as to arrest the situation. It’s unfortunate that Lamu is now among the 15 counties leading in maternal and infant deaths. Good news is, something can be done,” said Komu.

Among other factors found to blame for the increased maternal and infant deaths are beliefs that a woman shouldn’t be attended to by a male health officer while pregnant.

“Many women prefer home deliveries than hospitals since they don’t want to be seen by male doctors. Unfortunately, many of the home deliveries end badly and we lose mothers and babies. People should discard some of these beliefs and cultures so that we can save lives. You are only guaranteed of a safe delivery if you come to the hospital,” said Komu.

According to the report by the Kenya Demographic Health Survey of 2014, Lamu is among 15 counties that account for the over 60% maternal, newborn and child deaths in Kenya.