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Abortions, facilities down in ’17

Health Minister Mam Bunheng speaks at the ministry’s annual meeting in Phnom Penh on Monday.
Health Minister Mam Bunheng speaks at the ministry’s annual meeting in Phnom Penh on Monday. Heng Chivoan

Abortions, facilities down in ’17

The number of reported abortions in Cambodia dipped by nearly 900 in 2017 compared to the year before, as did the number of safe providers, according to an annual report released by the Ministry of Health on Monday.

There were a total of 11,376 abortions recorded by the ministry in 2017, compared to 12,250 abortions it tracked in 2016, according to the report. The downward trend began in 2015 when the number of reported abortions was at 21,541.

At the same time, though, there was a decrease in the number of public safe abortion places in 2017. In 2009, there were only 44, but that number increased to 762 in 2016, and then decreased to 667 last year, according to the report. The report states these places provide safe abortions and post-abortion care in accordance with the country’s Abortion Law.

“The main reasons for the decrease in the [number of] public safe abortion services and post-abortion care at the state centres are because staff who have the technical abilities to perform safe abortions . . . retired and some changed their workplace,” among other reasons, the report says.

Kim Surphirun, director of the Kampong Cham Health Department, said that the drop in the number of abortions in his province was due to people being more aware of reproductive health and contraceptive methods.

Another reason, he said, was because some people seek those services at private facilities. “It’s their preference,” he said. “It doesn’t mean that state staff does not have the abilities.”

Chum Sopha, executive director with the NGO Health and Development Alliance, echoed Surphirun’s comments about more awareness about contraceptive methods being a contributing factor in the decrease in abortions. But the report states that only about a quarter of women aged 15 to 49 reported using modern contraceptives.

Sopha also said the closure of some of the public safe abortion facilities across the country could be another contributing factor in the number of abortions decreasing.

“Of course, it’s still low, but . . . it has increased from the past,” Sopha said of the number.

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