The Africa Regional Conference on Abortion: From Research to Policy will be held from Tuesday, November 29 to Friday, December 2, 2016 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. This conference builds on a decade of work linking research to action to reduce unsafe abortion in Sub-Saharan Africa.
The three-day event will bring together 250 researchers, policymakers, advocates, health care providers, youth, journalists and donors who are focused on reducing the detrimental impact of unsafe abortion on African women, especially young women and adolescents, as well as on their families and on society as a whole.
An estimated 56 million abortions occur each year worldwide. The proportion of abortions that are performed under unsafe conditions is not currently known. However, complications from unsafe abortions are common in developing regions, where the procedure is often highly restricted. In Africa, women have more than eight million abortions each year, many of which are unsafe. About 1.6 million women in the region are treated annually for complications from unsafe abortion—many women experience complications and do not receive the treatment they need. According to the most recent estimates, at least 9% of maternal deaths in Africa annually are due to unsafe abortion.
It is estimated that 90% of African women of childbearing age live in countries with restrictive abortion laws, and even where the law allows abortion under certain circumstances, few women are able to navigate the processes required to obtain a safe and legal procedure.
Unsafe abortion is a major public health problem, not only in countries where access to safe abortion is highly restricted, but also where it is legally allowed. The Africa Regional Conference on Abortion will highlight findings from research studies and how they have contributed to changes in policy and practice, as well as improvements in abortion policy and programs, during the last decade.
The Africa Regional Conference on Abortion also celebrates more than a decade since passage of the law in Ethiopia that decriminalized abortion and paved the way for a national safe abortion program under a broad set of conditions.
In 2005, the Ethiopian Parliament enacted one of Africa’s most progressive abortion laws. A year later, the Ethiopian Ministry of Health released guidelines for safe abortion services, making major progress toward implementing revisions of the country’s abortion law.
The conveners hope that this important meeting will allow us to capitalize on what came before and continue to move forward. We know that the more than 200 attendees at this conference, along with their organizations and partners, will continue to build the evidence to support ending unsafe abortion in all parts of Africa.