Public dialogue on abortion needed: Haufiku

13 Feb 2018 15:10pm
WINDHOEK, 13 FEB (NAMPA) – The Minister of Health and Social Services, Bernhard Haufiku says there is an urgent need for public dialogue on the legalisation of abortion.
He said this should be done especially in view of the high number of cases (7 355) of illegal abortions recorded by the ministry in 2017.
Speaking at the handing over of contraceptives by the United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA) in Windhoek recently, Haufiku said his ministry is yet to receive public feedback on how to deal with illegal abortions.
“The figure is staggering, but we are not moving fast to address the termination of pregnancies. Are we going to let it stay as it is, or are we going to make it easier for those who need their pregnancies to be terminated?” asked Haufiku.
Last year at the bi-monthly conference on the state of health in Namibia, Haufiku explained that most backdoor abortions were detected by professionals when women sought medical attention due to heavy bleeding or untreated infections.
He however indicated that such cases could not be reported to the police due to ethical issues and concerns that women would shy away from hospitals in fear of being reported to the police.
The Abortion and Sterilisation Bill was first issued for public consultation in 1996 by Namibia’s first health minister, Dr Nickey Iyambo, however was ultimately withdrawn by his successor, Dr Libertina Amathila, in 1999.
In Namibia currently, abortion can only be performed under strict medical supervision.
Also, consent for abortion can only be given in cases of rape, especially when the life of the mother is in danger.
Haufiku, however, emphasised that young people should be empowered to be able to prevent unplanned and unwanted pregnancies.
He noted that the education ministry and his ministry have signed a Memorandum of Understanding for comprehensive sexual education to be taught in schools.
“We did not see much of the impact yet, but we are hoping to see changes, because teachers are still impregnating young girls. This is an indication of the level of ignorance and lack of knowledge in the school system,” said Haufiku.
Handing over the N.dollars 7 million donation, UNFPA Country Representative, Dennia Gayle said the contribution is aimed at contributing to the achievement of Namibia’s health and development objectives, particularly for women and adolescent girls.
She noted that most of the donation commodities are long term contraceptives such as implants and intra-uterine devices as methods that are highly effective for long term family planning as these do not require daily or weekly attention.
The donation includes 110 000 units of norethisterone and solo shot syringes, 200 000 units of female condoms and 1 100 jadelle implants, among others.