HD-Background Selector

2015 In Article

Despite broad grounds for legal abortion in Zambia, access to abortion services remains limited. Pharmacy workers, a primary source of health care for communities, present an opportunity to bridge the gap between policy and practice. As part of a larger operations study, 80 pharmacy workers, both registered pharmacists and their assistants, participated in a training on medical abortion in 2009 and 2010. Fifty-five of the 80 pharmacy workers completed an anonymous, structured training pre-test, treated as a baseline questionnaire; 53 of the 80 trainees were interviewed 12-24 months post-training in face-to-face interviews to measure the retention of information and training effectiveness. Survey questions were selected to illustrate the principles of a harm reduction approach to unsafe abortion. Bivariate analysis was used to examine pharmacy worker knowledge, attitudes and dispensing behaviours pre-training and at follow-up. A higher percentage of pharmacy workers reported referring women to a health care facility between surveys (47% to 68%, p = 0.03). The number of pharmacy workers who reported dispensing ineffective abortifacients decreased from baseline to end-line (30% to 25%) but the difference was non-significant. However, study results demonstrate that Zambian pharmacy workers have a role to play in safe abortion services and some are willing to play that role.

2016 In Article

Unsafe abortion is a significant but preventable cause of global maternal mortality and morbidity. Zambia has among the most liberal abortion laws in sub-Saharan Africa, however this alone does not guarantee access to safe abortion, and 30% of maternal mortality is attributable to unsafe procedures. Too little is known about the pathways women take to reach abortion services in such resource-poor settings, or what informs care-seeking behaviours, barriers and delays. In-depth qualitative interviews were conducted in 2013 with 112 women who accessed abortion-related care in a Lusaka tertiary government hospital at some point in their pathway. The sample included women seeking safe abortion and also those receiving hospital care following unsafe abortion. We identified a typology of three care-seeking trajectories that ended in the use of hospital services: clinical abortion induced in hospital; clinical abortion initiated elsewhere, with post-abortion care in hospital; and non-clinical abortion initiated elsewhere, with post-abortion care in hospital. Framework analyses of 70 transcripts showed that trajectories to a termination of an unwanted pregnancy can be complex and iterative. Individuals may navigate private and public formal healthcare systems and consult unqualified providers, often trying multiple strategies. We found four major influences on which trajectory a woman followed, as well as the complexity and timing of her trajectory: i) the advice of trusted others ii) perceptions of risk iii) delays in care-seeking and receipt of services and iv) economic cost. Even though abortion is legal in Zambia, girls and women still take significant risks to terminate unwanted pregnancies. Levels of awareness about the legality of abortion and its provision remain low even in urban Zambia, especially among adolescents. Unofficial payments required by some providers can be a major barrier to safe care. Timely access to safe abortion services depends on chance rather than informed exercise of entitlement.

2016 In Article

Zambia has one of the most liberal abortion laws in sub-Saharan Africa. However, rates of unsafe abortion remain high with negative health and economic consequences. Little is known about the economic burden on women of abortion care-seeking in low income countries. The majority of studies focus on direct costs (e.g. hospital fees). This article estimates the individual-level economic burden of safe and unsafe abortion care-seeking in Zambia, incorporating all indirect and direct costs. It uses data collected in 2013 from a tertiary hospital in Lusaka, (n = 112) with women who had an abortion. Three treatment routes are identified: (1) safe abortion at the hospital, (2) unsafe clandestine medical abortion initiated elsewhere with post-abortion care at the hospital and (3) unsafe abortion initiated elsewhere with post-abortion care at the hospital. Based on these three typologies, we use descriptive analysis and linear regression to estimate the costs for women of seeking safe and unsafe abortion and to establish whether the burden of abortion care-seeking costs is equally distributed across the sample. Around 39% of women had an unsafe abortion, incurring substantial economic costs before seeking post-abortion care. Adolescents and poorer women are more likely to use unsafe abortion. Unsafe abortion requiring post-abortion care costs women 27% more than a safe abortion. When accounting for uncertainty this figure increases dramatically. For safe and unsafe abortions, unofficial provider payments represent a major cost to women. This study demonstrates that despite a liberal legislation, Zambia still needs better dissemination of the law to women and providers and resources to ensure abortion service access. The policy implications of this study include: the role of pharmacists and mid-level providers in the provision of medical abortion services; increased access to contraception, especially for adolescents; and elimination of demands for unofficial provider payments

2010 In Article

An estimated 60% of all adolescent pregnancies in low-income countries are unintended. The present study was carried out at the university hospital in Lusaka, Zambia over a four-month period in 2005. The aim was to explore experiences of pregnancy loss and to ascertain the girl's contraceptive knowledge and use and their partner's involvement in the pregnancy/abortion. Eighty-seven girls aged 13-19 years admitted to hospital for incomplete abortions were interviewed. Of these girls, 53 (61%) had had a spontaneous abortion and 34 (39%) had undergone an unsafe induced abortion. Significantly more girls with an unsafe induced abortion were single, students, had completed more years in school and were in less stable relationships. Girls' overall contraceptive knowledge and use was low and most pregnancies were unplanned. Partners played a decisive role in terminating pregnancy through unsafe induced abortion. Traditional healers, girls themselves and health professionals were the main abortion providers. Young women's health risks due to unprotected sex and lack of contraceptive services should urgently be addressed. The existence of the abortion law and access to emergency contraception should be better publicized in Zambia.

2014 In Article

The Zambian Association of Gynecology and Obstetrics is one of the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO) member societies participating in the FIGO Initiative for the Prevention of Unsafe Abortion and its Consequences from the East, Central, and Southern Africa region. The activities included in this country's plan of action were to provide access to safe abortion within the full extent of the law to women receiving care at the University Teaching Hospital in Lusaka, and to increase the proportion of women leaving the hospital with a contraceptive method. Zambian law regarding abortion is liberal, but in general it was Not applied until very recently. The proportion of legal terminations of pregnancy among patients receiving abortion care at the hospital increased from 3.2% in 2009 to 7.7% in 2011, while the percentage of women leaving the hospital with a contraceptive method increased from 25.3% to 69.4% over the same period.

2014 In Article

The objective of this research was to explore the context of abortion stigma in Ghana and Zambia through qualitative research, and develop a quantitative instrument to measure stigmatizing attitudes and beliefs about abortion. Ultimately, we aimed to develop a scale to measure abortion stigma at the individual and community level that can also be used in the evaluation of stigma reduction interventions. Focus group discussions were conducted in both countries to provide information around attitudes and beliefs about abortion. A 57-item instrument was created from these data, pre-tested, and then administered to 531 individuals (n = 250 in Ghana and n = 281 in Zambia). Exploratory factor analyses were conducted on 33 of the original 57 items to identify a statistically and conceptually relevant scale. Items with factor loadings > 0.39 were retained. All analyses were completed using Stata IC/11.2. Exploratory factor analysis resulted in a three-factor solution that explained 53% of the variance in an 18-item instrument. The three identified subscales are: (i) negative stereotypes (eight items), (ii) discrimination and exclusion (seven items), and (iii) potential contagion (three items). Coefficient alphas of 0.85, 0.80, and 0.80 for the three subscales, and 0.90 for the full 18-item instrument provide evidence of internal consistency reliability. Our Stigmatizing Attitudes, Beliefs, and Actions scale captures three important dimensions of abortion stigma: negative stereotypes about men and women who are associated with abortion, discrimination/exclusion of women who have abortions, and fear of contagion as a result of coming in contact with a woman who has had an abortion. The development of this scale provides a validated tool for measuring stigmatizing attitudes and beliefs about abortion in Ghana and Zambia. Additionally, the scale has the potential to be applicable in other country settings. It represents an important contribution to the fields of reproductive health, abortion, and stigma.

2015 In Article

Unsafe abortion is a significant but preventable cause of maternal mortality. Although induced abortion has been legal in Zambia since 1972, many women still face logistical, financial, social, and legal obstacles to access safe abortion services, and undergo unsafe abortion instead. This study provides the first estimates of costs of post abortion care (PAC) after an unsafe abortion and the cost of safe abortion in Zambia. In the absence of routinely collected data on abortions, we used multiple data sources: key informant interviews, medical records and hospital logbooks. We estimated the costs of providing safe abortion and PAC services at the University Teaching Hospital, Lusaka and then projected these costs to generate indicative cost estimates for Zambia. Due to unavailability of data on the actual number of safe abortions and PAC cases in Zambia, we used estimates from previous studies and from other similar countries, and checked the robustness of our estimates with sensitivity analyses. We found that PAC following an unsafe abortion can cost 2.5 times more than safe abortion care. The Zambian health system could save as much as US$0.4 million annually if those women currently treated for an unsafe abortion instead had a safe abortion.

2012 In Article

Despite Zambia's relatively progressive abortion law, women continue to seek unsafe, illegal abortions. Four domains of abortion attitudes - support for legalization, immorality, rights, and access to services - were measured in 4 communities. A total of 668 people were interviewed. Associations among the 4 domains were inconsistent with expectations. The belief that abortion is immoral was widespread, but was Not associated with lack of support for legalization. Instead, it was associated with belief that women need access to safe services. These findings suggest that increasing awareness about abortion law in Zambia may be important for encouraging more favorable attitudes.

2016 In Article
Unsafe abortion is a significant but preventable cause of global maternal mortality and morbidity. Zambia has among the most liberal abortion laws in sub-Saharan Africa, however this alone does Not guarantee access to safe abortion, and 30% of maternal mortality is attributable to unsafe procedures. Too little is known about the pathways women take to reach abortion services in such resource-poor settings, or what informs care-seeking behaviours, barriers and delays. In-depth qualitative interviews were conducted in 2013 with 112 women who accessed abortion-related care in a Lusaka tertiary government hospital at some point in their pathway. The sample included women seeking safe abortion and also those receiving hospital care following unsafe abortion. We identified a typology of three care-seeking trajectories that ended in the use of hospital services: clinical abortion induced in hospital; clinical abortion initiated elsewhere, with post-abortion care in hospital; and Non-clinical abortion initiated elsewhere, with post-abortion care in hospital. Framework analyses of 70 transcripts showed that trajectories to a termination of an unwanted pregnancy can be complex and iterative. Individuals may navigate private and public formal healthcare systems and consult unqualified providers, often trying multiple strategies. We found four major influences on which trajectory a woman followed, as well as the complexity and timing of her trajectory: i) the advice of trusted others ii) perceptions of risk iii) delays in care-seeking and receipt of services and iv) economic cost. Even though abortion is legal in Zambia, girls and women still take significant risks to terminate unwanted pregnancies. Levels of awareness about the legality of abortion and its provision remain low even in urban Zambia, especially among adolescents. Unofficial payments required by some providers can be a major barrier to safe care. Timely access to safe abortion services depends on chance rather than informed exercise of entitlement.
2016 In Article

Unsafe abortion is a significant but preventable cause of global maternal mortality and morbidity. Zambia has among the most liberal abortion laws in sub-Saharan Africa, however this alone does Not guarantee access to safe abortion, and 30% of maternal mortality is attributable to unsafe procedures. Too little is kNown about the pathways women take to reach abortion services in such resource-poor settings, or what informs care-seeking behaviours, barriers and delays. In-depth qualitative interviews were conducted in 2013 with 112 women who accessed abortion-related care in a Lusaka tertiary government hospital at some point in their pathway.