Incidence of induced abortion and post-abortion care in Tanzania

Sarah C Keogh, Godfather Kimaro, Projestine Muganyizi, Affiliation: Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences (MUHAS), Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania

  • Jesse Philbin, Affiliation: Guttmacher Institute, New York, United States of America
  • Amos Kahwa, Affiliation: National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR), Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania

Esther Ngadaya, Akinrinola Bankole ONE, 11 September 2015 is the first nationally representative study of the incidence of abortion and the provision of post-abortion care in Tanzania. It was conducted by researchers at the US-based Guttmacher Institute and Tanzania’s National Institute for Medical Research and Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences. It found that an estimated 405,000 abortions were performed in the country in 2013, the vast majority of which were clandestine, unsafe procedures under an abortion law that is both highly restrictive and ambiguous.The research surveyed health facilities and health professionals and reviewed population and fertility data. It estimated that 66,600 women received post-abortion care in health facilities for complications of unsafe abortions in 2013. However, almost 100,000 other women who experienced complications did not receive the medical attention they needed.“Recognizing that unsafe abortion is a leading cause of maternal death, the Tanzanian government has expanded the availability of post-abortion care over the past decade, but significant gaps still exist and most women do not receive the care they need,” said Sarah C Keogh. “This study identifies many of those gaps and will inform strategies to ensure that every Tanzanian woman who needs it can access life-saving post-abortion care.”The researchers recommend strengthening efforts to ensure universal access to post-abortion care, which is currently unevenly available, including by training mid-level providers and adequately supplying health facilities with the necessary drugs and equipment. They also emphasise the importance of including the provision of contraceptive services as a routine part of post-abortion care. Finally, they recommend that the ambiguity in Tanzania’s abortion law be clarified.