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The East African : Jun 28th 2015
The EastAfrican 26 OUTLOOK JUNE 27- JULY 3 D E VE LO PME N T Uganda in new rules on abortion The guidelines p≥ovide health wo≥ke≥s with p≥actical info≥mation on how they can manage abo≥tion and its complications By EVELYN LIRRI Special correspondent at reducing the number of deaths resulting from unsafe abortions, estimated at 1,200 annually. The guidelines provide health U workers with practical information on how they can manage abortion and its complications. Every year, an estimated 300,000 abortions are carried out in Uganda. Because most of them are unsafe, they contribute to 26 per cent of all maternal-related deaths, a figure that is considerably higher than the World Health Organisation’s average for East Africa of 18 per cent. In Tanzania, maternal deaths from unsafe abortions stand at 16 per cent while in Kenya, this figure is about 13 per cent. One of the highlights of the guidelines is the need to offer legal protection to caregivers who provide post-abortion and emergency care services. The guidelines also offer survi- vors of rape, defilement, incest and other forms of sexual and genderbased violence access to safe abortion services before reporting the incident to the police. According to the country’s laws, abortion is only permissible when preserving a woman’s life, her mental and physical health or when the pregnancy is as a result of incest, defilement or rape. But the long and tedious proc- ess of proving these circumstances discourages many women and girls from seeking legal abortions, with the majority ending up carrying out unsafe procedures at backstreet clinics. Health workers on the other hand are reluctant to provide the services for fear of prosecution. ganda’s Health Ministry has unveiled new guidelines aimed HIGHLIGHTS In Uganda, abortions contribute to 26 per cent of all maternalrelated deaths. The new guidelines, therefore, seek to reduce the incidence by: Offering legal protection to caregivers who provide postabortion and emergency care services. Improving the quality of postabortion care and preventing long term complications. Offering survivors of sexual and gender-based violence the leeway to access safe abortion services before reporting the incident to the police. Reducing the number of unplanned pregnancies, which is the number one reason for the high cases of abortion. A nurse from Kampala International Hospital holds a session on maternal health in Kampala recently. Pictures: Morgan Mbabazi Anthony Mbonye, the director of health services (community health) at the Ministry of Health said the new guidelines would help reduce the high rates of unsafe abortion, which impose a huge financial burden on the country’s already overstretched health sector. The country spends an estimated Ush7.5 billion ($2.28 million) annually on treating complications arising from unsafe abortions alone. Prof Mbonye said that increasing access to safe and effective family planning services would help reduce the number of unplanned pregnancies, which is the number one reason for the high cases of abortion. He said that the guidelines would also help improve the quality of post abortion care and prevent long term complications such as anaemia, sep- sis and trauma to pelvic abdominal organs. Charles Kiggundu, the president of the Association of Gynaecologists and Obstetricians of Uganda, said the guidelines will provide a better picture on how, when and under what circumstances a safe abortion can be performed. Stigma “Some health professionals think abortion is totally illegal; in most cases, it is hidden in figures of haemorrhage and sepsis at health facilities because of the stigma associated with it,” said Dr Kiggundu. He, however, added that the guidelines alone would not address the problem, saying that there is a need for the government to put in place infrastructure, including equipment and human resources. Dr Kiggundu said that only about 13 per cent of the facilities in the country can provide emergency obstetric care, making it difficult for women and girls who present complications after procuring an abortion to receive emergency care. Moses Mulumba, the executive director of the Centre for Health, Human Rights and Development, a non-profit research and advocacy organisation, said that the guidelines would help stop women and girls from resorting to unsafe, back street abortions. “Our laws are vague; the policy on unsafe abortion will deal with an issue that has been ignored for far too long,” said Mr Mulumba. Mode≥n humans, Neande≥thals ‘inte≥b≥ed in Eu≥ope’ By A SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT Washington Post -Bloomberg A NEW study published Monday in Nature suggests that modern humans and Neanderthals may have been interbreeding in Europe as recently as 40,000 years ago. The study examined the skeletal remains of a man who lived about 40,000 years ago and found that he had had a Neanderthal ancestor just a few generations back. Dubbed Oase 1, the man had more Neanderthal DNA than any modern human ever examined — between 6 and 10 per cent compared with the 3 per cent average today — and the Neanderthal DNA segments he had were long, indicating that they came from an ancestor just four generations back or so. That adds weight to the idea that humans and Neanderthals actually co-existed for quite some time, and that our traces of Neanderthal DNA aren’t the result of a few sexual encounters — but rather a long-term mingling of the species. Until now, the only real evidence of human “Our traces of Neanderthal DNA are the result of a long-term mingling of the species.” Study published in Nature and Neanderthal mixing came from populations in the Middle East some 50,000 to 60,000 years ago. Those are the couplings that led to our own lineage. But the new study shows that a European had recent Neanderthal contributions to his DNA in addition to those early fragments from African couplings, indicating that humans and Neanderthals lived together in Europe too. It seems that the individual studied in the new paper wasn’t part of a branch that would lead to the humans alive today — his descendants died out. That could very well be due to the interbreeding itself: Perhaps, as is the case with most hybrids, the interspecies offspring were prone to infertility and disease. “This is the only interbreeding in Europe that we know about so far,” Svante Pääbo, director of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, and lead author of the study, told the Guardian. “It shows us that the very earliest modern humans that came to Europe really mixed with the local Neanderthals here. It’s not just something that happened early on when they came out of Africa.” We used to think that modern man had vio- lently expunged the Neanderthal from the planet — or at least outcompeted his cousins using superior intellect. But if humans and Neanderthals had centuries to get to know each other, then the story of our success and their failure becomes much more interesting. Biocont≥ol agent to stop sp≥ead of t≥ee pest By ISAAC KHISA The EastAfrican UGANDAN SCIENTISTS plan to use a biocontrol agent to stop the spread of the blue gum chalcid, a pest that forms lesions on the leaves, stalk and stems of young eucalyptus trees, leading to stunted growth and sometimes death. Plans are underway to intro- duce a parasite from the Agriculture Biotechnology Institute in South Africa, to the country’s forests to help control the spread of the devastating pest, also known as Leptocybe invasa. Peter Kiwuso, a senior research officer at the National Forestry Resources Research Institute in Kifu, central Uganda, said that they plan to release the Selictroides neseri parasite to eucalyptus plantations this July, subject to obtaining a permit from the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries. The scientists plan to work with the Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute of South Africa, the Forest Invasive Species Network for Africa based in Malawi and Uganda’s National Forestry Authority. The blue gum chalcid was dis- covered in the Middle East in 2000 and was first reported in South Africa and later in Uganda in 2005. The pest is also present in Kenya and Tanzania. Although there is no bionomic study to quantify the economic losses resulting from this pest, unhindered population growth of blue gum chalcid in Uganda as well as the East African region will result in economic losses to eucalyptus growers and cause a shortage of wood products including woodfuel. About 95 per cent of Uganda’s rural population relies on wood for fuel, according to a recent report by the National Environment Management Authority. The trees also provide construction materials and poles for electricity posts and fences. Dr Arthur Tugume, a lecturer at the College of Natural Sciences at Makerere University, said biocontrol methods are acceptable as long as they have been proven not to be invasive and do not affect the environment. A man tends to his eucalyptus trees in Rwampara, western Uganda.
Jun 21st 2015
Jul 5th 2015