A gynecologist at Kamuzu Central Hospital in the capital Lilongwe has said unsafe abortion remains a major challenge contributing to a high mortality rate in Malawi.

Dr Grace Chiudzu said currently 17% of maternal related deaths are due to unsafe abortions.

“At Kamuzu Central Hospital, for example, 30% of gynecology admissions are due to complications resulting from unsafe abortion”, says Dr Chiudzu.

Currently about 675 pregnant women per 100, 000 due to give birth die due to maternal related complications in Malawi.

“This month alone at Kamuzu Central Hospital, two women have died because they came to the hospital late after procuring unsafe abortion,” she said.

Current legislation in Malawi restricts medical abortion to only when the mother’s health is at risk but statistics show that the number of women procuring unsafe abortion continues to rise.

Speaking on Friday during a two day of media workshop on the situation of unsafe abortion in Malawi, Dr Chiudzu noted with concern that ‘most of the victims are girls and young women who are desperate of their pregnancy.’

A reproductive and health rights organization called IPAS is training about twenty journalists from various media houses on how to report on issues of unsafe abortion.

“We expect that the media should help to raise public awareness on the effects of unsafe abortion”, says Ministry of Health Reproductive Health Officer Mr Laston Chikoti.

A 2009 Ministry of Health report estimates that over 70,000 abortions take place in Malawi but whether to legalize abortion or not remains a huge debate.

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