South Africa currently only provides for medical abortion in the private sector – however, the National Department of Health is finalising guidelines for implementation in the public sector. Given the demand for abortion services by women, the limited accessibility of surgical abortion there is a need to make medical abortion services available. This should address illegalmedical abortion providers currently advertising on lamppostsin public areas and the concerning maternal mortality rates.
Since 1997, over 33 000 women have died of cervical cancer in South Africa. This translates into roughly 3 000 per year. In addition, approximately 7000 women develop the disease every year. In 2000, a national cervical cancer screening policy was developed and put into place. The system uses a screening method to prevent the precancerous lesions from developing into cervical cancer through early detection and treatment. Screening takes place through pap smears with three free pap smears being offered to women in the public service at the ages of 30, 40 and 50.