Incidences of induced abortions are more prevalent in the South-South and the North-East regions of Nigeria, a new report says.
The study, conducted by US-based Guttmacher Institute, and Ipas, a nongovernmental organisation that focuses on female reproductive rights, puts the South-South in the lead, and the South West at the bottom.
The report shows that besides insurgency, the North East region of Nigeria is also plagued by a high rate of abortions – second only to the South-South.
“The proportion of abortions is lowest in South West, at 11 per cent, and highest in the South-South at 17 per cent, and 16 per cent in the North East,” the report says.
It adds that at least 1. 2 million induced abortions take place in various parts of Nigeria every year.
Olutosin Owolude, a consultant lecturer are the department of gynaecology at the University of Ibadan, who presented the report Thursday in Abuja, said increased rates of abortions, done mostly through unsafe methods, have further heightened maternal mortality in the country.
“As we all know, Nigeria has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world, presently put at 560 per 1000 births,” he said.
Mr. Owolude said the study, which was conducted in 2012, went through series of checks before its publication in 2015.
“These involve scientific methods that you have to rigorously follow,” he said. “It takes a long time to do this kind of study and to make sure that we do our analyses in a way that we are very confident of the findings,” said Mr. Owolude.
“We typically do not want to reveal the results until we have the study peer reviewed and get expert opinion that we have done all we need to do to have a scientific finding,” he added.
According to him, the number of induced abortions nationwide doubled from a previous report in 1996, which gave the number as 610, 000 nationwide.
He associated the reason for the increase to poor economic conditions which he said has led to an increase in the desire for smaller families.
He said Nigeria’s growing population, was another notable factor.
Mr. Owolude said the report also showed that about 40 per cent of women who engage in induced abortions suffer complications serious enough to require treatment.
He called on the government to salvage the situation by creating family planning programs as well as increasing sex education.
He said the government should provide equipment and manpower to meet the health needs of women suffering from complications resulting from abortion, as well as introduce programs focusing on improved use of contraceptive products.
Ipas country lead and senior advisor, Hauwa Shekarau, said the program was aimed at exposing the challenges of women and highlighting their reproductive rights, stressing that the life of one woman is as important as that of every woman.
“Because of the restrictive nature of the law regarding abortion in Nigeria, many women suffer, due to fear for stigmatization, among others. Yet every day the numbers of abortion continue to rise,” she stated.
She called on the Nigerian government and people to face the challenges posed by incidences of abortion in order to avoid an increase in mortality rates in the country.