Combatting maternal mortality in Cameroon

The Society of Gynaecologists and Obstetricians of Cameroon (SOGOC) has officially launched their Advocacy for Comprehensive Abortion Care project in Yaoundé.

Combatting maternal mortality in Cameroon

The Society of Gynaecologists and Obstetricians of Cameroon (SOGOC) has officially launched their Advocacy for Comprehensive Abortion Care project  in Yaoundé.

The launch included a ceremony that was presided over by the Director of the Department of Family Health, Professor Mbu Robinson. It was an occasion for the guests and the public to discover and learn more about SOGOC and the Advocacy for Comprehensive Abortion Care project. The speeches from the society’s President Prof Leke and the Focal point of the project Dr Eko, highlighted the mission, vision, context and objectives of the society and the project.

The presiding official of the ceremony, Professor Mbu reiterated that the vision of the Advocacy for Comprehensive Abortion Care project is in line with the directives of the Ministry of Public Health. He noted that unsafe abortion is a leading cause of maternal mortality and the Government certainly needs the support of collaborators like SOGOC, and other organisations dealing in sexual reproductive health, so as to combat maternal mortality.

The launch was attended by the executive of SOGOC, led by the President Professor Robert Leke, and representatives of partner institutions including Cameroon Association for Social Marketing (ACMS), RENATA, the Cameroon National Association for Family Welfare (CAMNAFAW), the Cameroon Association of Women Lawyers (ACAFEJ), the Association of Midwives of Cameroon (ASFAC), and the No Limit For Women Project (NOLFOWOP).

Leaders in reproductive healthcare

SOGOC is an apolitical, independent and non-profit organisation whose vision is to promote a Cameroon where optimum reproductive healthcare (RHC) is available, accessible and affordable to all women. SOGOC’s mission is to collaborate with the Cameroon government (Ministry of Public Health), health related institutions, partners in reproductive health (national, international), civil society and the community in order to optimize the standard of practice in Obstetrics and Gynecology in Cameroon.

Through the three year Advocacy for Comprehensive Abortion Care project, SOGOC intends to tackle issues which impede women and young girls in Cameroon from having access to comprehensive abortion care services within the confines of the law. These include:

  • The poor and negative perception of abortion by health providers, policy makers and the general population which often stigmatizes those seeking care;
  • The restrictive abortion laws in Cameroon (Penal code 2007 article 337 – 339) which stipulates that the performance of abortions is illegal except if proven necessary to save the mother from grave danger to her health or when the pregnancy is the result of rape. It continues that anyone performing an illegal abortion is subject to one to five years imprisonment and a fine of 100,000 to two million CFA francs. A woman who procures or consents to her own abortion is subject to imprisonment for fifteen days to one year and/or a fine of 5,000 to 200,000 CFA francs;
  • Ignorance of the existing abortion laws, norms and protocols by health service providers and the public;
  • Lack of communication about the laws governing abortion in Cameroon
  • Lack of implementation of the Maputo protocol which has been ratified by the president of the republic of Cameroon. The protocol allows for abortion in cases of sexual assault, rape, incest, and where the continued pregnancy endangers the mental and physical health of the mother or the foetus.
  • Cultural and religious beliefs;
  • Inadequate number of trained professionals who can provide comprehensive abortion care services

The problem in Cameroon

Research has suggested that over 25% of maternal morbidity and mortality in Cameroon is due to unsafe abortions, although research to capture country wide data is needed. Thousands of unsafe abortion survivors are also often left with long-term health complications like infertility amongst others.

Given the above devastating consequences of inadequate access to comprehensive abortion care, SOGOC is elated to be leading the Advocacy for Comprehensive Abortion Care project which will strengthen the capacity of the society, promote women’s reproductive rights, support advocacy for access to comprehensive abortion care services in Cameroon and above all contribute to reducing maternal mortality and morbidity.

The goals of the Advocacy for Comprehensive Abortion Care project 

At the end of the three-year project, SOGOC expects to achieve the following:

  • That the society will stand out as a national leader on sexual and reproductive health and rights as well as comprehensive abortion care services;
  • That the Cameroonian public has a changed perception of comprehensive abortion care. This will be done through sub grants for sensitization campaigns to some 100 adolescents about the negative effects of unsafe abortion.
  • That a vibrant network of likeminded stakeholders is in place to promote national advocacy for comprehensive abortion care in Cameroon;
  • That at least 200 qualified health personnel are fully aware of the norms and protocols about comprehensive abortion care  in Cameroon;

SOGOC has the enthusiasm and determination to make the Advocacy for Comprehensive Abortion Care project successful in Cameroon and therefore make a significant contribution to reverse the alarming rate of maternal mortality and morbidity caused by unsafe abortions.  

Read more about FIGO’s project, and other National Member Societies involved.