A policy statement on safe pregnancy termination (Abortion) has been released by the Lagos State Government through the Ministry of Health.
The “Lagos State Guidelines on Safe Termination of Pregnancy for Legal Indications” policy paper, which is 40 pages long, outlines best practices for legal pregnancy termination in Lagos State.
While therapeutic pregnancy termination (Abortion) is permitted by law in Lagos State, Dr. Olusegun Ogboye, Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Ministry of Health, presented and launched the document at a stakeholders’ engagement.
He pointed out that the necessity for evidence-based data and information for health personnel in the public and commercial sectors who possess the essential abilities and training to perform safe terminations in order to decrease avoidable fatalities gave rise to the policy document.
“In 2011, the Lagos State House of Assembly modified the criminal law, permitting for abortion to preserve the life and protect the physical health of the mother,” according to a statement from the Lagos State Ministry of Health, which referenced Ogboye. While the legal system in Lagos covers physical health, the state’s health system has not yet offered services that comply with the law.
In addition to offering standards and best practices for legal indications, pre- and post-procedure care, techniques, and monitoring, this publication includes information on pertinent legislation that are applicable in Lagos State. I must say that this paper has undergone extensive technical stakeholder consultation with the State’s legal and health service contexts.
According to Ogboye, the process to create the recommendations got under way in 2018 with the Safe Engage initiative, which was sponsored by the Population Reference Bureau and hosted by the Society for Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Nigeria with help from the Lagos Ministry of Health.
He continued by saying that major opinion leaders in Lagos and the South-West region collaborated with stakeholders in the Stater health sector to create a specific advocacy tool for terminations in a legal setting.
He emphasized that the Safe Engage project’s advocacy messages centered on two immediate outcomes, including ensuring that safe abortion services were available in Lagos within the bounds of the law and domesticating the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act, which would support women in their decision to end a pregnancy brought on by rape or incest.
He said, “To guide the implementation, one of the follow up recommendations of the project was the adaptation of the National Standards and Guidelines for Safe Termination of Pregnancy within Legal Indications within the Lagos State context. The Federal Ministry of Health had developed and disseminated the national guidelines on safe termination of pregnancy which highlights the compendium of conditions and circumstances under which termination of pregnancy could be instituted.
“The guideline was intended to build the capacity of health professionals to identify pregnancies for which legal termination could be instituted. Marie Stopes International in Nigeria in collaboration with the Population Reference Bureau proposed to support the State government to adapt the document.”
The Permanent Secretary described the steps involved in adapting the National Guidelines, which included technical meetings to discuss the legal provisions allowing for safe abortion and the conditions that are permitted within the legal framework to protect mothers’ lives and physical health, as well as meetings with larger stakeholder groups to validate the document.
The recommendations were released today as a result of all that manual labor. We hope that by disseminating this information today, healthcare professionals would be guided to give this service within the bounds of the law, continued Ogboye.
Abortion in Nigeria is not illegal, but it is restricted, according to Mr. Emmanuel Ajah, Country Director of Marie Stopes International Organization Nigeria (MSION), a renowned organization for reproductive health.
According to Ajah, many healthcare experts are not aware of the conditions under which a pregnancy may be safely terminated.
“The domestication of this policy gives the healthcare professionals the necessary direction on prenatal medical conditions that pose a high risk to the woman’s life and health if the pregnancy progresses to term, as well as on the standard management of abortion within the parameters of the law in Lagos state. This policy shows how dedicated the Lagos state government is to enhancing maternal health, particularly in terms of reducing the negative effects of unsafe abortion procedures there, he said.
One of the consultants who developed the document, Vice Chancellor of the University of Medical Sciences, Otukpo, Prof. Innocent Ujah, asserted that the enunciation, deployment, and use of these guidelines will protect the lives of pregnant women and women whose physical or mental health would be jeopardized by the continuation of their pregnancies.