In this edition of Let Us Know (LUK), IJMA Blog Co-Editor Eta Ashu interviews Mr. Isaac Eranga, a maternal and child health activist and health writer from Nigeria. He calls attention to the problems of unwanted pregnancies and unsafe abortions that deserve immediate action. 

QUESTION: If GHEP were implement one project in the field of Sexual and Reproductive Health, more specifically in Nigeria, what would you recommend?

Answer: If the organization were to tackle a problem in Nigeria, I would suggest that the organization tackles the problems of unwanted pregnancies and unsafe abortions should be top in the scale of preference.

Limited access to sexual and reproductive health information and services leaves many African women and girls of all ages, powerless to prevent pregnancies that they do not want and cannot afford. Unsafe abortion is often their last resort.

It is on record that Nigeria has the highest burden of maternal deaths in Africa (40,000 – African Union 2013 Status Report on Maternal Newborn and Child Health).

Globally, Africa bears 62% of maternal deaths caused by unsafe abortion. Unsafe abortions claims the lives of at least 29,000 African women and girls each year – most of whom are in their prime years of life (15 – 49 years).

According to Dr. Oluwarotimi of the Society of Gynecology and Obstetrics of Nigeria, 23% of adolescents in Nigeria, have unwanted pregnancies. Therefore, the issues of unwanted pregnancies and unwanted abortion must be tackled. This can be done through comprehensive sexuality education. In carrying out this, peer educators are to be trained and given an assignment of mentoring a limited number of females, especially teenagers in secondary schools.

Unwanted pregnancies and unsafe abortions impose significant costs on families and Nigerian health systems. There is a tendency of not taking proper care of pregnancy that is not wanted. This nonchalant attitude could lead to lead to a wide range of complications that could occur the period of pregnancy, childbirth, or the postpartum period.

Complications after unsafe abortions causes 13 percent of maternal death, says the report quoted earlier.

About Isaac Eranga
I am Isaac Eranga, I was a former Managing editor of the African Journal of Reproductive Health. I am an MPH candidate with the Peoples Open Access Education Initiative. I am an editorial board member of the International Journal of MCH and AIDS. I am also a member of the Canadian Coalition of Global Health Research. I recently obtained a post graduate continuing medical education in Medical Ethics from the Norwegian Medical Association. In 2014, I was awarded an award for excellence as family planning champion by the Nigerian Urban Reproductive Health Initiative. I am currently a social media volunteer with IJMA. I authored a book – Understanding Basic Facts about Breast and Cervical Cancers published in 2015.