August 26, 2013


most of their ‘customers’ are married women who don’t want any more children.  “I have so many return patients that I have started viewing them as customers rather than patients”, said one of the doctors.

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Kenya: High HIV And Abortion Rates In Marriage

It passed almost for a joke when Google Zeitgeist 2012 Report ranked ‘How To Procure an Abortion’ as top on the list of the things Kenyans search for in the ‘How To’ category.  An expose by Rose Kwamboka however, a writer with the Crazy Monday pullout by The Standard, would later reveal the glaring facts of abortion in Kenya and the story provoked a candid discussion on Classic 105, with radio personalities  Maina Kageni and Mwalimu King’ang’i popularly known as ‘Churchill’.

The Kenya Forum, which has often reported on matters of reproductive health in Kenya, went ahead to highlight the issues that emerged during the discussion and  particularly the confessions by doctors who were called in to give their opinions during the breakfast show, namely that most of their ‘customers’ are married women who don’t want any more children.  “I have so many return patients that I have started viewing them as customers rather than patients”, said one of the doctors.


The said ‘customers’, taking advantage of the anonymity granted by the phone calls to the radio studio, also called in to defend their actions and at the end of the discussion two facts were apparent:

•    Though illegal, procuring an abortion in Kenya is just as easy as being treated for malaria as long as you can pay for it;
•    Abortion was rife among married women.


As always, groups of women took to social media and condemned the radio show for not being credible and it was quite evident that some were really burying their heads in the sand because statistics had been produced to back the allegations.

As at January this year, according to the report that was published in the same article in The Standard newspaper, there was apparently 29 abortions in Kenya for every 100 live births and generally about 310,000 abortions every year in the country with unsafe abortions contributing to 35 percent of all maternal deaths in Kenya, which translates to 2,450 deaths out of the 7,000 that occur annually during, or as a result of pregnancy or childbirth.


However according to a national survey released on Wednesday by the Ministry Of Health and the African PopulationAPHRC and Health Research Centre (APHRC), the figures above have risen.

It’s reported that about 465, 000 unsafe abortions were procured by Kenyan women last year alone with a shocking finding that abortion was highest among married women with three in every five married women procuring an abortion.

Among the women who sought post-abortion care in health facilities 64 percent were married or living with a partner, 16.5 percent were girls aged between 10 and 19 and 31.7 percent were aged between 20 and 24.


According to the Director of Medical Services, Dr Francis Kimani, among the young girls aged 19 or younger who sought post abortion care in a health facility, 45 percent experienced severe complications.

Abortion complications range from heavy or persistent bleeding, infection or sepsis, damage to the cervix, scarring of the uterine lining, perforation of the uterus, and death in the most unfortunate cases.


Kenya is now second to Uganda in the number of recorded abortion rates and health complications related with abortion. Mr Kimani urged the government to increase allocation for contraceptives and provide adequate and sustainable funding for maternal health.


As promised during their launch of their manifesto, the Jubilee government has granted free maternity to Kenyan women but it looks like there is still more to be done as far as maternal health care is concerned and especially regarding family planning.

Even though majority of women might just refrain from contraceptives simply because they dread the side effects, a good number of women especially those in rural areas might not be able to afford them.


It’s also about time married couples considered using protection especially following the grim statistics that HIV is also highest among married couples.  In addition, following the rampant cases of rape and defilements rocking the country, the government should also address this vice as it may play a big role when it comes to abortion cases, especially among the young age bracket.

Judging from the above statistics it seems that during intercourse, to a Kenyan woman, the thought of contracting HIV and other sexually transmitted infections is not as dreadful as that of getting pregnant, after all you trust your partner right!


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