In my last post, I addressed some basic issues regarding pregnancy, birth in Africa as a whole. There are developed countries and developing countries, which means demographics are different leading to many discrepancies between countries in regards to maternal health. There are many facets of maternal health that really need addressed. When I got the idea to write about this, I figured, no biggie, little blog post, but now I am completely immersed in this and learning all that I can. My heart is so very heavy for what I know is going on.
One of these issues in reproductive care. Lack of family planning resources has a direct impact on maternal/child health. This basically means that without contraception, women and their families are negatively impacted. Ways in which they are negatively impacted are the maternal mortality rates. The more pregnancies she has, the greater her risk of dying. If the mother is HIV positive, the more babies she has, the greater risk of her baby contracting the disease. The less babies the woman has, the more financially secure the family will be. In unplanned pregnancies are reduced, there will be less need for unsafe abortive procedures that, again, put her life in peril.
In different regions, the use of modern contraception varies. In Western Africa the use is 8%, Eastern 20%, Middle 7%, and Southern 58%. Even different countries within these regions vary. Economic status directly impacts contraceptive use. Wealthier women are more likely to use modern family planning methods. This leaves poorer women at a disadvantage. This means they are less likely to be able to access family planning information. This status difference also determines abortion rates. If you have less access to contraception, you are far more likely to resort to abortion.
Sadly, in some African areas, women have no control over their reproduction. Some women deal with sexual assault, rape, domestic violence, incest, abduction, and early marriage. Africa has some of the highest levels of physical and sexual violence against women. This also leads to higher HIV infection rates (which also impacts maternal mortality and infant/child mortality).
In regards to abortion, in 2008, 6.4 million abortions were performed in Africa, with a mere 3% done safely. 3%!!! 14% of the women included in the maternal mortality statistics were due to unsafe abortion procedures. 1.7 million women annually are hospitalized due to unsafe abortion. 90% of African women live in areas where there is either little on no abortion access leaving these women with little to no options for safe abortion. Abortion is illegal in most African nations. Women are desperate enough that they drink bleach, have catheters inserted into their uterus, have crochet hooks inserted, etc. What happens when Mom dies due to complications from an unsafe abortion?
In conclusion, these women are at a huge disadvantage. We, in developed countries, should be beyond thankful that not only do we have access to family planning services whether it be Planned Parenthood or our own personal OB/GYN. We have access to education regarding every choice there is when it comes down to it. If we truly care about women, we would find out what we can do to help them access family planning services as it directly impacts maternal mortality.
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