GOVERNMENT has issued an indefinite ban on Marie Stopes-Zambia, the US-based non-governmental organisation (NGO) from carrying out abortions.
Health Minister Joseph Kasonde said in Lusaka yesterday that the NGO breached medical procedure in conducting 490 abortions in Northern and Muchinga provinces.
Marie Stopes currently providing services in the two provinces breached the Abortions Act of 1972, which stipulated that three medical doctors should authorise an abortion.
But according to a report, the NGO carried out the 430 abortions in Nakonde, 30 in Kasama and another 30 in Mpika, with the authority of only one doctor, Mike Chisha.
The report shows that the terminations were carried out between January and May 2012.
At a media briefing in Lusaka yesterday, Dr Kasonde said the decision was arrived at after a comprehensive scrutiny process following meetings with Marie Stopes International management and officials from the Ministry of Health.
Dr Kasonde was flanked by Northern Province Permanent Secretary, Emmanuel Mwamba and Ministry of Health spokesperson, Reuben Kamoto-Mbewe.
"Unfortunately, it has been confirmed that some of the abortions had been performed on the authority of one medical doctor, contrary to the requirement of three medical doctors as provided for in the Abortions Act of 1972.
"The management has been ordered to suspend abortion services immediately. However, the rest of the services may continue and the organisation may continue to operate in the country," Dr Kasonde said.
The Abortions Act laid down conditions in which a pregnancy could be terminated. Under the Act, a pregnancy could only be terminated if it constituted a risk to the life of the pregnant female or the unborn, and a minimum of three doctors to certify the action.
Dr Kasonde said among the services that could continue were family planning, cervical cancer screening, screening and treatment for sexually transmitted infections, obstetric and gynaecological.
He said the Ministry of Health had been working cordially with Marie Stopes for the past four years.
Mr Mwamba had issued a "primary" ban when the matter surfaced and directed Northern Province Police chief, Mary Chikwanda to follow up the matter.