In Zimbabwe, abortions are legally restricted and complications from unsafe abortions are a major public health concern. This study in 2012 explored women's and providers' perspectives in Zimbabwe on the acceptability of the use of misoprostol as a form of treatment for complications of abortion in post-abortion care. In-depth interviews were conducted with 115 participants at seven post-abortion care facilities. Participants included 73 women of reproductive age who received services for incomplete abortion and 42 providers, including physicians, nurses, midwives, general practitioners and casualty staff. Only 29 providers had previously used misoprostol with their own patients, and only 21 had received any formal training in its use. Nearly all women and providers preferred misoprostol to surgical abortion methods because it was perceived as less invasive, safer and more affordable. Women also generally preferred the non-surgical method, when given the option, as fears around surgery and risk were high. Most providers favoured removing legal restrictions on abortion, particularly medical abortion. Approving use of misoprostol for post-abortion care in Zimbabwe is important in order to reduce unsafe abortion and its related sequelae. Legal, policy and practice reforms must be accompanied by effective reproductive health curricula updates in medical, nursing and midwifery schools, as well as through updated training for current and potential providers of post-abortion care services nationwide. Our findings support the use of misoprostol in national post-abortion care programmes, as it is an acceptable and potentially life-saving treatment option.
Keywords: Zimbabwe; misoprostol; post-abortion care; unsafe abortion.
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