Forty per cent of beds in public hospitals are occupied by women with complications resulting from unsafe abortions, doctors have said.
Many such cases involve women aged between 17 and 25 years. Such abortions are also responsible for the rise in mental illnesses, a Kenya Medical Association (KMA) conference in Kilifi County heard on Thursday.
The participants said that many abortion cases had resulted in death.
“The number of unsafe abortions is still high but it is under-reported. It is about 30 to 40 per cent bed occupancy,” said Kisumu Medical and Education Trust (Kmet) executive director Monica Ogutu.
Ms Ogutu blamed men and policy-makers for the rising cases of abortion in the country.
She said lack of family planning guidance for women and failure to make laws that support all women to procure safe abortions at hospitals were largely to blame.
“Men are a huge let-down. Some actually tell their women statements such as, ‘Contraceptives are for sex workers I do not want to see those tablets in my house’ and these are women who no longer want to conceive.”
Ms Ogutu noted that some women use desperate methods such as swallowing disinfectants, drinking concentrated juices, strong tea and herbal concoctions to terminate pregnancies.
Most of the patients say they turn to backstreet clinics to procure abortions due to lack of money, she said.
The Kmet boss said others feared being dumped by their boyfriends or being stigmatised by family and friends.
Nyanza, Western and Rift Valley are leading in cases of abortion.
Kenya Medical Association secretary Lukoye Atwoli said rape and incest that resulted in unwanted pregnancies were among the major reasons women developed mental illnesses.
Such women, Dr Atwoli said, suffered from anxiety and depression which interfered with their ability to work, their relationships and increased risk of suicide.