Misusing Cytotec
Guyana Chronicle
March 8, 2002

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Ms Mohairís thoughtful and practical letter should not go without comment (Stabroek News, March 01, 2002).

She makes an important point of unsafe abortion being the result of social and economic differences. The women in hospitals with complications of abortion are all poor.

Ms Mohabir is correct. This is indeed a problem of social justice. Poor people lack access to information that others enjoy. Informational asymmentry is one feature of inequality: poor women don't know as much as rich women know. Information is power.

If Ms Mohabir is correct in her assertion that most women who are admitted to Georgetown Hospital with complications have misused Cytotec, then what they lack is information on its proper use. Here are some of that information.

1. Poor women need to change their belief that the more advanced a pregnancy, the more Cytotec they need. The exact opposite is the case. If you think of picking a fruit, the greener the fruit the more effort is required to detach it. As the fruit ripens, you need less and less effort. The same is true of pregnancy.

2. Currently, they probably take Cytotec orally, but the drug is more effective and causes fewer side effects if inserted vaginally.

3. For a pregnancy that is up to 10 weeks old, a single dose of 800 micrograms inserted vaginally will result in abortion within 72 hours, in 85% of the case. If the dose is repeated after 48 hours, the success rate increases to 90-95%.

4. For a pregnancy of 11 to 16 weeks, a dose of only 200 micrograms inserted vaginally. The dose may be repeated after 48 hours.

If this information were widely available, the current misuse of Cytotec that results in so many admissions could be significantly reduced.