The cost of post-abortion care in developing countries: a comparative analysis of four studies

Health Policy Plan. 2016 Oct;31(8):1020-30. doi: 10.1093/heapol/czw032. Epub 2016 Apr 4.


Over the last five years, comprehensive national surveys of the cost of post-abortion care (PAC) to national health systems have been undertaken in Ethiopia, Uganda, Rwanda and Colombia using a specially developed costing methodology-the Post-abortion Care Costing Methodology (PACCM). The objective of this study is to expand the research findings of these four studies, making use of their extensive datasets. These studies offer the most complete and consistent estimates of the cost of PAC to date, and comparing their findings not only provides generalizable implications for health policies and programs, but also allows an assessment of the PACCM methodology. We find that the labor cost component varies widely: in Ethiopia and Colombia doctors spend about 30-60% more time with PAC patients than do nurses; in Uganda and Rwanda an opposite pattern is found. Labor costs range from I$42.80 in Uganda to I$301.30 in Colombia. The cost of drugs and supplies does not vary greatly, ranging from I$79 in Colombia to I$115 in Rwanda. Capital and overhead costs are substantial amounting to 52-68% of total PAC costs. Total costs per PAC case vary from I$334 in Rwanda to I$972 in Colombia. The financial burden of PAC is considerable: the expense of treating each PAC case is equivalent to around 35% of annual per capita income in Uganda, 29% in Rwanda and 11% in Colombia. Providing modern methods of contraception to women with an unmet need would cost just a fraction of the average expenditure on PAC: one year of modern contraceptive services and supplies cost only 3-12% of the average cost of treating a PAC patient.

Keywords: Abortion; cost; developing countries; post-abortion care.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Abortion, Criminal / adverse effects
  • Abortion, Criminal / economics
  • Abortion, Criminal / statistics & numerical data*
  • Abortion, Induced / adverse effects
  • Abortion, Induced / economics
  • Abortion, Induced / statistics & numerical data*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Africa
  • Algorithms
  • Colombia
  • Contraception / economics
  • Delivery of Health Care / economics
  • Delivery of Health Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Drug Costs / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Health Expenditures / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Personnel / economics
  • Health Personnel / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy