First published by Sunday Tribune
THE KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health was largely at a loss for words when confronted with queries about its termination of pregnancy (ToP) services this week.
Besides failing to provide clarity on the admission procedure for abortions at public health care facilities in the Durban area, it did not answer several questions arising from a Roving Reporters investigation into the plight of young women who choose to have terminations at Addington Hospital.
Among the unanswered questions were how many staff work full and part-time at Addington’s ToP unit? And how many patients were they able to attend to each day?
Department spokesperson Ncumisa Mafunda said Addington Hospital had “managed to administer 554 first trimester (12 weeks) abortions from January up to June 2018”.
“After the procedure the women are given the full spectrum of services like counselling, family planning, as well as screening for HIV and TB.
“This is followed by a review two weeks after the procedure,” said Mafunda.
She said women who seek termination services in their second trimester are referred to other institutions such as King George, Prince Mshiyeni hospitals and to private providers.
Mafunda declined to comment on what was being done to improve the safety of women who wait overnight to be able to get service from Addington’s ToP unit, or advise when its nurse, who was reportedly on leave on Thursday, would be back on duty.
“The department will make a follow-up on this matter and give advice on where and when health care users can access the service at this facility,” said Mafunda.
She also declined to comment on the issue of doctors and nurses in the public sector refusing to perform abortions through conscientious objection, and on what action was being taken to counter the stigma associated with abortion. – Izze Sieman and Bukeka Silekwa