African Union health ministers meeting in Maputo, Mozambique, last week adopted a policy framework to address sexual and reproductive health and rights but did not agree on how to address the issue of unsafe abortions, resolving to allow each member state to handle the issue separately, Lilongwe's Chronicle/AllAfrica.com reports.
Thomas Bisika -- head of the A.U.'s Division of Health, HIV/AIDS, Nutrition, Other Related Infection Diseases and Population in the Department of Social Affairs -- said all member countries agreed that the majority of the maternal deaths in Africa result from unsafe abortions.
He added that member countries during the meeting emphasized their intent to address the issue based on the social conditions in their countries.
The health ministers "realized that abortion is not really a family planning method," Bisika said, adding, "The agreement is that people have to embark on programs that enhance the avoidance of unsafe abortions."
According to Bisika, the ministers agreed that access to abortion services should be made available "to the full extent of the law," especially in cases of incest or where the woman's health is at risk.
Bisika said that the policy framework adopted last week is for the period from 2007 through 2010 and that A.U. members aim to adopt another framework for 2011 through 2015 to coincide with evaluations of the U.N. Millennium Development Goals.
The draft version of policy framework aims to reach the goal of providing universal access to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services in Africa by 2015 (Chronicle/All Africa.com, 10/17).