Unsafe abortion and abortion care in Khartoum, Sudan

Reprod Health Matters. 2009 Nov;17(34):71-7. doi: 10.1016/S0968-8080(09)34476-6.


Unsafe abortion in Sudan results in significant morbidity and mortality. This study of treatment for complications of unsafe abortion in five hospitals in Khartoum, Sudan, included a review of hospital records and a survey of 726 patients seeking abortion-related care from 27 October 2007 to 31 January 2008, an interview of a provider of post-abortion care and focus group discussions with community leaders. Findings demonstrate enormous unmet need for safe abortion services. Abortion is legally restricted in Sudan to circumstances where the woman's life is at risk or in cases of rape. Post-abortion care is not easily accessible. In a country struggling with poverty, internal displacement, rural dwelling, and a dearth of trained doctors, mid-level providers are not allowed to provide post-abortion care or prescribe contraception. The vast majority of the 726 abortion patients in the five hospitals were treated with dilatation and curettage (D&C), and only 12.3% were discharged with a contraceptive method. Some women waited long hours before treatment was provided; 14.5% of them had to wait for 5-8 hours and 7.3% for 9-12 hours. Mid-level providers should be trained in safe abortion care and post-abortion care to make these services accessible to a wider community in Sudan. Guidelines should be developed on quality of care and should mandate the use of manual vacuum aspiration or misoprostol for medical abortion instead of D&C.

MeSH terms

  • Abortion, Criminal / adverse effects*
  • Abortion, Induced / adverse effects*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Contraception
  • Female
  • Health Services Accessibility / organization & administration*
  • Humans
  • Maternal Health Services / organization & administration*
  • Middle Aged
  • Pregnancy
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Sudan / epidemiology
  • Young Adult