Meeting the need for safe abortion care in Ethiopia: results of a national assessment in 2008

Glob Public Health. 2013;8(4):417-34. doi: 10.1080/17441692.2013.778310.


Complications of an unsafe abortion are a major contributor to maternal deaths and morbidity in Africa. When abortions are performed in safe environments, such complications are almost all preventable. This paper reports results from a nationally representative health facility study conducted in Ethiopia in 2008. The safe abortion care (SAC) model, a monitoring approach to assess the amount, distribution, use and quality of abortion services, provided a framework. Data collection included key informant interviews with 335 health care providers, prospective data on 8911 women seeking treatment for abortion complications or induced abortion and review of facility logbooks. Although the existing hospitals perform most basic abortion care functions, the number of facilities providing basic and comprehensive abortion care for the population size fell far short of the recommended levels. Almost one-half (48%) of women treated for obstetric complications in the facilities had abortion complications. The use of appropriate abortion technologies in the first trimester and the provision of post-abortion contraception overall were reasonably strong, especially in private sector facilities. Following abortion law reform in 2005 and subsequent service expansion and improvements, Ethiopia remains committed to reducing complications from an unsafe abortion. This study provides the first national snapshot to measure changes in a dynamic abortion care environment.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Abortion, Induced* / adverse effects
  • Abortion, Induced* / mortality
  • Ambulatory Care Facilities / statistics & numerical data
  • Ethiopia
  • Female
  • Health Services Accessibility*
  • Hospitals / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Maternal Health Services / supply & distribution*
  • Maternal Mortality
  • Pregnancy
  • Primary Health Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Private Sector
  • Prospective Studies
  • Public Sector
  • Quality of Health Care*
  • Retrospective Studies