"They Love Their Patients": Client Perceptions of Quality of Postabortion Care in North and South Kivu, the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Glob Health Sci Pract. 2019 Aug 27;7(Suppl 2):S285-S298. doi: 10.9745/GHSP-D-18-00368. Print 2019 Aug 22.


Background: Postabortion care (PAC) is a lifesaving intervention that, when accessible and of good quality, can prevent the majority of abortion-related deaths. However, these services are only sporadically available and often of poor quality in humanitarian settings. CARE International, the International Rescue Committee, and Save the Children strengthened the Congolese Ministry of Health to provide PAC, including voluntary contraceptive services, in North and South Kivu, DRC.

Objective: We aimed to gain understanding of the demographic and clinical characteristics of PAC clients, the experiences of women who sought PAC at supported health facilities, and the women's perceptions of the quality of care received. We also explored how client perspectives can inform future PAC programming.

Methods: A PAC register review extracted sociodemographic and clinical data on all PAC clients during a 12-month period between 2015 and 2016 at 69 supported facilities in 6 health zones. In-depth interviews were conducted between September 2016 and April 2017 with 50 women who sought PAC in the preceding 3 months at supported health facilities. Interviews were recorded, transcribed, and translated into French for analysis. Thematic content analysis was subsequently used as the data analytic approach.

Results: In 12 months, 1,769 clients sought PAC at supported facilities; 85.2% were at less than 13 weeks gestation. Over 80% of PAC clients were treated for incomplete abortion, and of these, 90% were treated with manual vacuum aspiration. The majority (75.2%) of PAC clients chose voluntary postabortion contraception. All but one interview participant reported seeking PAC for a spontaneous abortion, although most also reported their pregnancy was unintended. Clients were mostly made aware that PAC was available by community health workers or other community members. Experiences at the supported facilities were mostly positive, particularly in regards to client-provider interactions. Most women received contraceptive counseling during PAC and selected a modern method of contraception immediately after treatment. However, knowledge about different methods of contraception varied. Nearly all women said that they would advise another woman experiencing abortion complications to seek PAC at a supported health facility.

Conclusions: The findings demonstrate the successful implementation of good-quality, respectful PAC in North and South Kivu. Overall, they suggest that the organizations' support of health workers, including competency-based training and supportive supervision, was successful.

MeSH terms

  • Abortion, Incomplete / therapy
  • Abortion, Induced
  • Abortion, Spontaneous
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aftercare*
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Family Planning Services*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy, Unplanned
  • Professional-Patient Relations*
  • Qualitative Research
  • Quality of Health Care*
  • Young Adult