Author: Gillies C. Kasongo, February 20 2015 - Panos Institute Southern Africa (PSAf) has called on journalists and media practitioners in Southern Africa to interrogate the reasons why unsafe abortions are still taking place in our communities. Speaking in Lusaka [Zambia] today at a National Media Training for editors and senior reporters and producers, PSAf Executive Director, Lilian Kiefer noted that there are unprecedented statistics in the region showing that a large number of women and girls are procuring unsafe abortions outside the health system.

"Unsafe abortion always takes away the dignity of a person," she said. "Unsafe abortions are taking a lot of lives of women especially adolescent girls in our communities, and we can all play our part in saving lives by opening dialogue to find solutions," noted Ms. Kiefer.

In agreeing with PSAf Executive Director, Ipas Zambia Executive Director, Felicia Sakala added that everyone should protect women and adolescent girls against the loss of lives in Zambia.

Ms. Sakala said, even in the face of the Termination of Pregnancy Act of 1972, Ipas Zambia is still "concerned about losing lives due to unsafe abortions."

There are a number of Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) difficulties that Zambian women face when it comes to issues of reproductive health. One of the challenges not adequately tackled has been the effects of unsafe abortion on the health of the affected woman and the strain it causes on the overall maternal and child health system.

Ms. Kiefer observed that "even with a good legal and policy environment, abortions still occur." This, she said, presents a challenge for the media to raise awareness and promote debate on the issue.

"This is why PSAf views the media as being well positioned stakeholders for advancing and preserving the dignity of persons and women in particular," said Ms. Kiefer. "PSAf believes there is need for the media to demystify abortion in our communities in order to preserve life. That is why as an organisation, we promote training of editors and their journalists to responsibly report health issues by providing factual but ethical information as a way of according the public with receptive information that could be beneficial to them."

The one day sensitisation meeting was conducted by PSAf in partnership with IPAS Zambia, with the aim of creating awareness on Sexual Reproductive Health (SRH) challenges faced by adolescent girls and women among media practitioners.

Panos Institute Southern Africa (PSAf) is seeking to mobilise the active participation of journalists in southern Africa in addressing the issues of unsafe abortions. Working together with media institutions, the organisation is planning a series of media advocacy articles for creating both awareness among policy makers and women and mobilize communities into accessing quality health services especially in the area of comprehensive abortion and care.

Gillies C. Kasongo is a Senior Programme Officer for Media Development and ICTs within Panos Institute Southern Africa (PSAf). Email:,