Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (RCOG) champions’ network: A new agenda for women’s health reform in sub-Saharan Africa

Friday Okonofua, Godwin Akaba


While women in all parts of the world experience induced abortion, it is in sub-Saharan Africa that abortion exerts its most deleterious negative consequences for human health and social development.  The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that about 520 per 100,000 women die from unsafe abortion in sub-Saharan Africa, compared to 220/100,000 in other lower income countries, and only 30/100,000 in high-income countries1.  The WHO has re-defined safe abortion as “abortion in countries where abortion law is not restrictive (i.e. abortion is legally permitted for social or economic reasons, or without specification as to reason) or in countries in which, despite formal law, safe abortion is broadly available”2,3. In contrast, unsafe abortion was defined as “abortions performed by people lacking the necessary skills or using hazardous techniques, and/or in an environment that does not meet the minimal standards”2,3.

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