Over 600,000 pregnancies in Nepal in 2017 were unintended, close to two-third of which ended in abortion, reveals a new report released this week by the UNFPA, the United Nations sexual and reproductive health agency aimed at shedding light on the often neglected health crisis affecting women of reproductive age worldwide.
The State of World Population 2022 report titled Seeing the Unseen also estimated that nearly half of all global pregnancies, totalling 121 million each year, are unintended and that ‘for the women and girls affected, the most life-altering reproductive choice — whether or not to become pregnant — is no choice at all.’
“This report is a wakeup call. The staggering number of unintended pregnancies represents a global failure to uphold women and girls’ basic human rights,” says UNFPA Executive Director Natalia Kanem. “Our report reveals that rates of unintended pregnancy strongly correlate with gender inequality, with lower socioeconomic development, and with more restrictions on sexual and reproductive rights.”
The report further states that over 60% of unintended pregnancies end in abortion and an estimated 45% of all abortions are unsafe, responsible for 5-13% of all maternal deaths. After taking dramatic strides to reduce maternal mortality rate from 539 per 100,000 live births to 239 between 1996 to 2016, Nepal’s progress has since stagnated, further affected by the pandemic in the last two years.
Some 44% of Nepali women of reproductive age who want to avoid pregnancy do not use any contraceptive methods. Similarly, use of modern methods of birth control among married women of reproductive age stands at 43%, leading to high rates of unintended pregnancy and unsafe abortion, while 50% of those who do use contraceptives discontinue within a year. Prevalent gender norms that prevent women and girls from accessing reproductive health care including contraceptives have been identified as a key factor.
In addition, half of all pregnancies among adolescents are estimated to be unintended, as only 23% in the group are reported to use contraceptives — much lower compared to the national average of 43%.
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