Uganda: Harm reduction model for access to safe abortion

Congratulations and thanks to Moses Mulumba and his colleagues at the Center for Health, Human Rights and Development (CEHURD) in Kampala for collaborating with Dr. Charles Kiggundu, a gynecologist and obstetrician, on a newly published article in the Legal and Ethical Issues section of the International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics.

Access to safe abortion in Uganda: Leveraging Opportunities through the Harm Reduction Model” by Moses Mulumba, Charles Kiggundu, Jacqueline Nassimbwa and Noor Musisi Nakibuuka, International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics 138 (August 2017): 231–236.  PDF free online for 12 months Submitted text  online at SSRN.

Access to safe and legal abortion services is a far reach for women and girls in Uganda. Although unsafe abortion rates have fallen from 54 to 39 per 1000 women aged 15-45 years over a decade, absolute figures show a rise from 294 000 in 2003 to 314,000 women having unsafe abortions in 2013.  Unfortunately, only 50% of the women who develop abortion complications are able to reach facilities for post-abortion care.  Despite the clinical evidence and the stories from undocumented cases, debate on access to safer and legal abortion is constricted, moralized, and stigmatized.  The harm reduction model has shown evidence of benefit in reducing maternal mortality and morbidity due to unsafe abortion while addressing related stigma and discrimination and advancing women’s reproductive health rights.  This article presents a case for promoting the model in Uganda.

Key words:  Abortion laws; Abortion policies and guidelines; Constitutional rights; Ethics; Harm reduction model; Human rights; Ugandan abortion law; Unsafe abortion

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