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01.07.2005 General News

GMA organises symposium on abortion


Kumasi, July 1, GNA - Mr. J B Danquah Adu, Deputy Minister of Women and Children Affairs has appealed to the Ghana Medical Association (GMA) to collaborate with the government to come out with a harmonious funding regime for the treatment of rape and defiled victims in the country. He said there was the need for broad consensus building and passionate discussions on whether rape and defiled victims should be treated free of charge under the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).

Mr Danquah Adu made the appeal at the opening of a symposium on abortions in Ghana in Kumasi, on Thursday. The symposium, which was organised by the GMA, aimed at educating the participants on the ethical, legal guidelines and the implications of unsafe abortions in Ghana. The participants were drawn from the health sector, NGOs, civil society organisations, media and the security agencies.

Mr Danquah Adu said government was concerned about the high rate of maternal mortality due to unsafe abortions in the country. He hoped the symposium would enable the GMA to come out with acceptable measures and procedures that would help reduce unsafe abortions in the country.

Professor Yaw Adu Gyamfi, President of the GMA, said between 22-30 per cent of maternal deaths in the country, are related to unsafe abortions. He said the symposium was not a way to legalise abortion in Ghana but to come out with measures that would help promote safe abortions.

Dr Afua Hesse, Fellow of GMA, who spoke on the topic " Abortion: overview of the problem in Ghana" said Ghana had a legal dispensation to eliminate deaths through unsafe abortions, adding that, there was the need to put emotions aside when discussing abortions and find an acceptable ways to solve unsafe abortions in Ghana. She called on health practitioners to offer counselling services to people who undergo abortions to help prevent the risk of engaging in another abortion.

Nana Oye Lithur Regional Co-ordinator, Africa Office of Commonwealth Women Initiative, who spoke on the "Legal implications-National and International Law", stated that, safe abortion was legally permissible in certain circumstances under the law. She attributed the high rate of unsafe abortions to the inability of women to assert their reproductive health rights and negotiate for safe sex and called for the harmonisation of the abortion laws and the adolescent reproductive health policy in the country to properly determine the age of adolescents who could engage in sexual activity and access reproductive health services.

Dr Joe Taylor, Programme Manager of Reproductive Health of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), said maternal mortality due to unsafe abortion was the most regrettable tragedy in Ghana. He said the GHS had initiated a number of strategies to reduce unsafe abortion and increase accessibility to post abortion care services in the country. Dr Taylor said the GHS was also developing information education and communication strategies to increase awareness on the laws on abortion.