By Alfred Mthandizi
The National Organization of Nurses and Midwifery (NOMN), President Dorothy Ngoma has advised Malawi Parliamentarians to do the needful on the much needed Termination of Pregnancy Bill
which is currently undergoing scrutiny by the different stakeholders. Mrs. Ngoma was speaking in an exclusive interview with our reporters.
Mrs. Ngoma said Malawians employed Members of Parliament to perform oversight functions, check Government and pass laws. “If these Members of Parliament are failing to do the needful, the question is why did they accept the job which they duly applied? I believe that time has come for these MPs to do what we employed them to do otherwise we will view them as not doing what we asked them to do,” said Ngoma. Mrs. Ngoma said she is aware that the issue boarders on personal conscience, but Ngoma said it is up to the Parliamentarians to choose either to protect lives of women and girls or else fear personal conscience, tradition, religion and culture.
The research conducted by USA-based Guttmacher Institute and Centre for Reproductive Health at the College of Medicine of the University of Malawi (Unima), recently indicated that abortion situation is worsening with time, despite that contraceptive usage has increased in the country.
A research study disseminated in Mangochi on Saturday revealed that 141,044 women had an abortion in 2015 at an annual rate of 38 abortions per 1,000 women aged between 15 and 49, clearly indicating how common abortion is in Malawi despite having restrictive laws.
In disseminated report, Dr. Ausbert Msusa said 60 percent of the abortions resulted in complications that required medical treatment, while 40 percent did not require medical treatment, the research study findings revealed.
Statistics indicates that in 2009, abortion figures were 67,000 and five years later the figures doubled amidst debate on whether the country should liberalize abortion laws by expanding the criteria under which an abortion can legally be obtained.
According to the research which was done using Abortion Incidence Complications Methodology, an estimated 861,161 unintended pregnancies occurred in 2015 comprising of 609,177 births, 135,940 miscarriages and 141,044 abortions. This translates to an overall pregnancy rate of 238 pregnancies per 1,000 women aged between15-49 nationally. The unintended pregnancy rate was 126 per 1,000 women aged 15-49 with northern region registered more cases than the other two regions.
“Overall, 53 percent of pregnancies in Malawi were unintended, and of all unintended pregnancies, 30 percent ended in abortion. Among all pregnancies in Malawi, an estimated 16 percent ended in abortion, 15 percent in miscarriage, 30 percent in unintended birth, and 39 percent in intended birth,” the research findings indicate.
Restrictive abortion laws and policies have been forcing woman and girls to seek unsafe abortion services from untrained people with the country spending about US$300,000-US$500,000 annually to treat complications of unsafe abortion. Commenting on the studies, Mrs. Ngoma said it is unfortunate that Malawi has the evidence based documents. “While I cannot say what MPs should do, but with all the research findings, Malawi Parliamentarians know what to do now,” said Mrs. Ngoma.