Unsafe abortion burden a cost to public health care systems in Zambia

A health research on unsafe abortion conducted by the University of Zambia (UNZA) in collaboration with the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) shows that to treat a case of unsafe abortion costs the country an estimated US$13.43. The Health System Costs of Unsafe and Safe Abortion research results show that the Zambian health system would save up to US$611,046 per year if each woman treated for a complication of unsafe abortion had instead accessed safe termination services.

The Health System Costs of Unsafe and Safe Abortion research results show that the Zambian health system would save up to US$611,046 per year if each woman treated for a complication of unsafe abortion had instead accessed safe termination services. A health research on unsafe abortion conducted by the University of Zambia (UNZA) in collaboration with the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) shows that to treat a case of unsafe abortion costs the country an estimated US$13.43.

The Health System Costs of Unsafe and Safe Abortion research results show that the Zambian health system would save up to US$611,046 per year if each woman treated for a complication of unsafe abortion had instead accessed safe termination services.

In an interview, some concerned Lusaka residents expressed their views on the reports and have urged government to provide members of the public with necessary information concerning the dangers of unsafe abortion.

Meanwhile, an associate Professor of Population Studies at the London School of Economics Ernestina Coast, who visited Zambia at the just ended 89th Agriculture and Commercial Show of Zambia said the Zambian health system spends up to US$2.4 million per year on post-abortion care to treat adolescents and women after unsafe induced abortions.

Dr. Coast added that his surveillance towards the research that was approved indicates that the costs of treating complications following unsafe abortion are a burden on public health care systems across the world.

She said US$380 million is spent per year for treating complications from unsafe abortions in Africa while US$274 million is spent per year in Latin America in dealing with complications arising from unsafe abortions.

“The costs to the Zambian health care system of unsafe abortion have never been estimated. There is no routinely collected data so we have to make estimates based on key informant interviews and medical case records review of women either receiving a safe abortion or care following an unsafe abortion,” Dr Coast said.

She revealed that Zambian doctors, nurses, pharmacists, health service administrators and staff of international non-government organisations active in the provision of safe abortion and post abortion care in Zambia were interviewed for the survey.

 “It costs the Zambian public health system 2.5 times more to provide post abortion care for unsafe induced abortions than to provide safe abortion. Preventing unwanted pregnancies and providing safe abortion services are cost-effective and life-saving,” Dr Coast said.

She said unsafe abortions also have associated costs such as death, longer-term ill-health and seeking Care for the woman herself and the money she has to borrow from family or friends.
 

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