Koforidua, Dec 13, GNA – The issue of making Comprehensive Abortion Care (CAC) services free to the public to ensure women’s right to reproductive health dominated discussions at a Ghana Health Service (GHS) and Ipas stakeholders review meeting in Koforidua on Thursday.
Whiles most of the stakeholders from the GHS believe that free abortion services would promote promiscuity and indecency in the system because people would see it as a recipe to indulge in bad sexual behaviour, the Country Director of Ipas, Dr Koma Jehu-Appiah, said it would rather enhance the access of women to such care to reduce deaths.
According to Dr Jehu-Appiah, many women resort to unsafe abortion practices such as drinking dangerous concoctions and chemicals to do away with unwanted pregnancies and in the processes have complications leading to death.
He said abortion related complications leading to deaths were significant to the high maternal mortality rate and therefore it was important that every means that would ensure that women had complete access to reproductive health was not stalled by any assumption.
Dr Jehu-Appiah said all the available options in providing abortion services are not pleasant and so any woman who wanted to have abortion was an indication that she had been pushed to the fullest limit and so must be given support.
He said despite the services being rendered by the Ipas through the GHS, unsafe abortion was still on the ascendancy because of cost and stigma attached to abortion and urged the stakeholders to join the Ipas advocate for the service to be free since it is a strategy to reduce maternal mortality rate in Ghana.
Dr Jehu-Appiah urged the stakeholders, who include midwives and district directors of the GHS in the region, to go beyond providing just the service but to liaise with the security agencies to ensure that people who impregnated under-age girls were dealt with according to the law.
He said according to the constitution, anyone who had sex with a woman under the age of 16 years breached the law and so in offering services to such children as the law guaranteed, they should ensure that the perpetrators were brought to book.
Ipas is working in public and private Health facilities to provide CAC services which hitherto were not institutionalized in the facilities to ensure that women have access to abortion care services to reduce deaths and increase women’s right in reproductive health.
In the Eastern Region, Ipas is working in many health facilities including the Regional Hospital in Koforidua and statistics show that over 8,000 women had benefited from the CAC services throughout the region.
Dr Michael Dedzo, the Eastern Regional Director of the GHS, said reports of inflating the price for the CAC services were worrying since even the small fees being charged was too high for many women in places that such services are needed.
He therefore urged the service providers to stick to the approved fees.
Dr Dedzo said GHS had a policy that where a woman needs such a service but could not afford it, she should not be denied the service by any facility since the health of women is paramount.
He appealed to district directors to ensure that the policy is strictly adhered to to reduce maternal deaths.
He said cases of women could not afford the cost of service should be documented to serve as a case study to be captured in policy formulation.