KATHMANDU, Jan 11: Abortion trends at private and government hospitals and at abortion centers in Kathmandu show an alarming increase in abortions among girls and women below 20 years of age in urban areas.
According to the District Public Health Office (DPHO) Kathmandu, the total number of safe abortion cases recorded at hospitals and abortion centers of Kathmandu district in 2015/16 was 15,099. Among these, 4,545 cases were of girls and women below 20 years and 10,554 cases were of those above 20. Similarly, 3,458 abortion cases involving girls and women below 20 were recorded in 2014/15 while 10,299 cases were of those above 20 years.
Out of 15,099 safe abortions in 2015/16, a total of 1,936 cases of girls below 20 and 6,323 of women above 20 were surgical cases. The rest were medically induced abortions.
Meanwhile, Puskar Bijukshe, information officer at DPHO Kathmandu, said that a total of 43,082 girls and women visited private and government hospitals for antenatal care (ANC) only once in 2015/2016 while 29,616 ANC visits were as per the protocol.
“Only 13.08 percent of girls and women below 20 visited hospitals regularly till delivery while 38.46 percent of single ANC visits were by girls and women below 20 in 2015/2016,” said Bijukshe. “This means 66 percent of pregnancies were terminated in abortion and only 33 percent cases involved willingness to deliver,” he added. “Figures on unsafe abortion cases practiced in private clinics are unavailable.”
These trend indicate that illicit sexual relations and abortions are rampant among unmarried girls in the urban areas, said officials at the Ministry of Health. “The highest abortion numbers are associated with school and college girls,” said sources requesting anonymity.
Dr Naresh Pratap KC, a public health expert, said that the younger generation has been influenced by the open society and culture of the West. “The young generation is not hesitant to live together and have physical relationships,” said Dr KC. “Abortion is the result of unsafe sex and lack of sex education. They at least should use contraceptives,” he said.
Dr KC further said that there was an urgent need to raise awareness and adopt preventive measures. “Unsafe sexual relationships can transmit STD and cause unwanted pregnancies,” he said. “If abortion is repeatedly done, it can lead to excessive bleeding, infection and infertility,” he warned.
Abortion is highly risky and repeated abortions can leave girls and women prone to cancer and maternity and mental health problems, according to DPOH Kathmandu.
According to the Nepal Demographic Health Survey in 1996, the maternal death rate was 551 out of the birth of 100,000 babies. It came down to 281 per 100,000 births in 2006. The WHO report of 2012 says that the maternal death rate in Nepal was 170 per 100,000 child births.