Fewer Hospitals Reporting Abortion Deaths, Study Shows

The number of Cambodian hospitals reporting death due to unsafe abortions dropped 90 percent over five years, a study of public facilities has found.  

A national survey released by the US nonprofit Ipas yesterday pointed to success in combating maternal mortality in Cambodia, which has one of the highest rates in Asia.

Only 1 percent of 80 hospitals and 125 health centers providing care after abortions reported that women died from complications this year, compared to 10 percent of 70 hospitals and 1 percent of 118 centers in 2005, the survey said.

“In general, abortions tend to be safer—that’s why there were less complications compared to before,” said Tung Rathavy, deputy director of Cambodia’s National Maternal and Child Health Center. Fewer of the 1,000 women in the sample were found torn, in shock or feverish after undergoing the procedure this year, she noted.

The study indicated that access to care had increased, and more than a third of health centers now provide safe abortions.

However, too many women still seek risky abortions, Ms Rathavy said. “What we should do is to gain their trust so they come to health care providers.”

Tamara Fetters, senior associate at Ipas, said that most women go to the public sector for post-abortion care, but some women still die at home. “Some women are ashamed. Some women don’t trust the health providers,” Ms Fetters said. “The more we improve health care utilization in general, the fewer and fewer those women are.”

The maternal mortality rate, including deaths related to abortion, was expected to have gone down in Cambodia, she said. “In causes of maternal mortality, unsafe abortion is really the one we can…prevent.”

Cambodia has one of the most liberal abortion laws in Asia, and 8 percent of women of childbearing age have had at least one abortion in their lifetime, according to the 2005 Cambodia Demographic and Health Survey.

However, only 11.2 percent of abortions occur in a public health facility, according to the CDHS.

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