Postabortion care in Latin America: policy and service recommendations from a decade of operations research

Deborah L Billings, Janie Benson
Health Policy and Planning 2005, 20 (3): 158-66
Unsafe abortion contributes significantly to maternal mortality and morbidity in Latin America. Postabortion care (PAC) using preferred technologies and a woman-centred approach to treat the complications of unsafe abortion can save women's lives and improve their reproductive health, as well as reduce costs to health systems. This article reviews results from 10 major PAC operations research projects conducted in public sector hospitals in seven Latin American countries, completed and published between 1991 and 2002. The studies show that following relatively modest interventions, the majority of eligible patients were being treated with manual vacuum aspiration (MVA), a method preferred for safety and other reasons over the method conventionally used in the region, sharp curettage (SC). A number of studies showed improvements in contraceptive counselling and services when these were integrated with clinical treatment of abortion complications, resulting in substantial increases in contraceptive acceptance. Finally, data from several studies showed that, in most settings, reorganizing services by moving treatment out of the operating theatre and reclassifying treatment as an ambulatory care procedure substantially reduced the resources used for PAC, as well as the cost and average length of women's stay in the hospital. These studies suggest that comprehensive PAC can and should be available to all women in Latin America. Such efforts should be coupled with work to improve primary prevention, including better contraceptive services to prevent unwanted pregnancy and safe, legal abortion services to reduce the number of clandestine and unsafe abortions.

Full Text Links

Find Full Text Links for this Article


You are not logged in. Sign Up or Log In to join the discussion.

Related Papers

Remove bar
Read by QxMD icon Read

Save your favorite articles in one place with a free QxMD account.


Search Tips

Use Boolean operators: AND/OR

diabetic AND foot
diabetes OR diabetic

Exclude a word using the 'minus' sign

Virchow -triad

Use Parentheses

water AND (cup OR glass)

Add an asterisk (*) at end of a word to include word stems

Neuro* will search for Neurology, Neuroscientist, Neurological, and so on

Use quotes to search for an exact phrase

"primary prevention of cancer"
(heart or cardiac or cardio*) AND arrest -"American Heart Association"