Working to Advance
Health Equity in Africa

Unsafe abortion in East and Southern Africa

Unsafe abortion in East and Southern Africa

Aims and objectives:

This was a multi-country scoping study of unsafe abortion and post abortion care in the East and Southern Africa region. The aim was to study perceptions by key stakeholders of the scale of unsafe abortion and its consequences; the drivers of unsafe abortion and inadequate
post-abortion care, and; the impediments and pathways to achieving fewer or safer abortions and improved post-abortion care. This scoping study is intended to inform the conception and methodology of a more in-depth study by HEARD on unsafe abortion in the region, as well as provide an overview of key abortion issues in four countries.

Key findings:

  • Stigma and discrimination prevent many women from seeking abortion or post-abortion care from qualified practitioners, even where abortion is not criminalised.
    Where legal abortion is highly restricted, safe abortion on demand is generally accessible privately, but is prohibitively expensive for the majority of women.
  • Little is known about the individual and societal costs of abortion-related complications or inadequate post abortion care.

Project outcomes:

  • Systematic literature review of unsafe abortion and post abortion care in the East and Southern African region.
  •  4 comprehensive country factsheets on unsafe abortion and post abortion care – Malawi, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania.
    Recommendations for further research.
  • This research has informed the Malawi Ministry of Health’s position in response to the UN CEDAW’s call for liberalisation of Malawi’s abortion laws.