Deputy Minister of Health, Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo, took to the streets of Bloemfontein yesterday, in protest against illegal abortions in the province, removing advertisements promoting illegal abortion services. Concern has been mounting over the number of bogus doctors offering illegal and unsafe abortions in the Free State.
Free State Health MEC, Montsheng Tsiu, who joined the march, hopes the campaign will encourage young people to use sexual reproductive health services offered by the state. These include contraceptives in the fight against sexually transmitted infections, unplanned pregnancies and unsafe pregnancy termination.
Pregnancies, illegal abortions on the rise
The Free State is one of five provinces with a high rate of teenage pregnancies. As a result, the number of illegal abortions is also on the rise.
Dhlomo said young people need advice on safe sex measures, and urged the youth to use youth-friendly services offered by clinics.
“Our clinics have dedicated youth-friendly zones which operate from 14:00 in the afternoons. We must all make these work effectively. There are about 46 of these zones in Mangaung,” he said.
‘Use proper facilities’
Tsiu called on women to use registered or designated facilities when opting for an abortion.
“Those performing illegal abortions don’t care about people’s lives and are only in search of money. We, therefore, call on our people to use legitimate medical officers or facilities,” she said.
She also urged students of the Motheo TVET College to practice safe sex and choose safe abortion facilities.
Tsiu concluded that it was worrying for underage children to be actively engaging in sex.
“We, as the government, are worried about the number of child mothers, many of them HIV positive. The use of condoms and other contraceptives are encouraged,” she said.
Offer more services to youth
Portia Matshane, a student at the TVET College, said it’s easier to visit a place offering illegal abortions.
“They don’t ask questions like at the government institutions. On the issue of contraceptives, I’d say, we young people are irresponsible, and we need to change our behaviour,” Matshane explained.
Another participant, Bandile Nikelo added: “As for illegal abortions, I’d like the government to provide services in every clinic, unlike now, where only certain ones offer abortions.”
She continued: “Police should join the campaign by ensuring that they arrest those performing illegal abortions.”
Meanwhile, the Soul City Institute for Social Justice (SCI) and other stakeholders provided safe sex education to the students. The education was an eye-opener for many students who flocked to the SCI stall to listen to the friendly councillor.
After the march, students visited various stalls, with some using the opportunity to voluntarily test for HIV. – Health-e News