Professor Chipato has worked as a lecturer in the department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the University Of Zimbabwe College Of Health Sciences since 1990. He has a special interest in PMTCT, contraception, postabortion care and cervical cancer prevention.
Professor Chipato is the RCOG’s Leading Safe Choices Best Practice Champion for Zimbabwe and has lead on the adaptation of the Leading Safe Choices Best Practice Paper in Postpartum Family Planning to fit the Zimbabwean context.
Here we talk to Professor Chipato about abortion and postabortion care in Zimbabwe.
What drew you to working in postabortion care in Zimbabwe?
I work in postabortion care as there are very few planned abortions in Zimbabwe as the law is very restrictive. When you see the many complications of neglected abortion, induced abortion and the numerous delays associated with abortion care you have no choice but to seek better solutions, many of which are so simple and affordable. For postabortion care the solutions are well known and well researched. They are inexpensive and just require better training at the primary care level so the care is moved closer to the patient.
21.6 million women experience an unsafe abortion worldwide each year; 18.5 million of these occur in developing countries; 47 000 women die from complications of unsafe abortion each year. Deaths due to unsafe abortion remain close to 13% of all maternal deaths. Could you tell us a little bit about the situation in your country?
We attribute about 18-20% of maternal deaths to be associated with abortion although it is difficult to say how many may have been induced. We are currently carrying out the first study in the country to estimate the incidence of induced abortion, its morbidity and mortality.
What do you feel are important factors in reducing the number of deaths caused by unsafe abortions in your country?
Definitely a review of the current law on abortion.
What role can health care providers play in ensuring women receive high quality sexual and reproductive health care in your country?
Advocacy for more health sector funding.
Why did you decide to become the RCOG Best Practice Champion and adapt the Best Practice Papers in Postpartum Family Planning?
We are currently adapting the PPFP Best Practice Papers and hope to do the same for the Comprehensive Abortion Care papers later on. Both subjects are my long standing interests. The evident benefits I see from my efforts are very satisfying for any medical professional.
This interview has been condensed and edited.