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Unsafe abortion risks lives of many women in Nepal's Far-West

Publication Date : 20-05-2014


A growing number of women are risking their lives and opting for unsafe abortion in the remote Far-Western districts of Nepal, according to health officials. The matter has become worse as some of the local pharmacies have been selling abortion medications illegally.

Jukotaki Soo-ky Mahatara of Bajura nearly lost her life while trying to abort the child she was carrying by taking the medicine she had bought from a local pharmacy recently. Mahatara was rushed to the Primary Health Centre (PHC) in Kolti after she started to bleed profusely. Unable to treat her, the health workers at the PHC referred her to a Nepalgunj hospital.

Another woman, Rajudevi Aauji, was also taken to the PHC after she suffered from complications resulted from the abortion drug she had taken to terminate her pregnancy on her own. 

Health officials say the problem of unsafe abortion practice is also widespread in Achham and Bajhang districts. Every other day

hospitals and other health facilities in these districts receive cases of abortion-related complications.

“It’s as if an epidemic has broken out in the remote regions of the Far West. There are several cases of unsafe abortions, some of them resulting into death of a mother,” says Taraman Kunwar, health assistant working in Achham.

Dr Niraj Singh of Bajhang District Hospital says some pharmacies are operating with the sole intention of making money and the innocent women are falling prey to their agenda. “These women take the medicine from these pharmacies. And after they start to have complications, they come to the hospital for treatment,” says Dr Singh.

According to legal regulations, a nursing staff can conduct abortion on a woman who is nine weeks into her pregnancy, while the pregnancy above that periods can only be terminated by authorised doctors. But in remote Far Western districts, many abortions are self-conducted by the mother herself, often with the help of medicine sold by local pharmacies. A common medicine being used is Misoprostol.

Health officials say these medicines could be bought from bordering areas like Gauriphant, Basanta, Rupahadiya for 250 Nepali rupees (US$2.67). The pharmacies sell them for up to 3,000 rupees ($32) across the border.


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