By Hope Ogego, Research Intern, APHRC
Many countries in Africa have passed regulations and restrictions associated with abortion, some of which permit it for socioeconomic reasons, and in some extreme cases only if the life of the mother is endangered. Generally, most countries in the region exclusively prohibit abortion altogether, which has resulted in women requiring abortion in these contexts resorting to unsafe methods and procedures that cause fatalities, severe disabilities or complications.
To the best of our knowledge, there are no online databases focusing on global abortion policies for Africa, let alone the world. To this end, the African Population and Health Research Center (APHRC) launched an online database in 2016 on abortion research in sub-Saharan Africa to offer free access to those interested in related literature.
Though APHRC’s Abortion Research Database mostly focuses on abortion-related issues and emerging literature on the topic, it also has implications for reproductive health and maternal and child health. The database has been recently updated and features over 1,000 publications that focus on unsafe abortions, post-abortion complications, post-abortion care, restrictions and/or regulations, and related polices.
The platform is guided to facilitate literature materials and publications for those interested in abortion within the African context, to help them access information for their own knowledge and help inform their research and professional interests. The articles chosen to formulate this database address the risks, complications, stigma, access to post-abortion care (PAC) services, and preventative measures to reduce the number of unsafe abortion cases. The publications share available data and evidence on unsafe or induced abortion, and the morbidity and mortality associated with unsafe abortions in sub-Saharan Africa. It also includes articles which discuss the extent to which women of childbearing age procure unsafe abortions, without consulting or seeking care before or after the abortion has been performed.
The database is updated regularly with publications from 2005 to date. Between January and February of this year alone, the database has had 270 visitors who have visited 343 pages, with an average visit life of 5 minutes. The listing of articles published also provides users with a wide range of publications to choose from along with the ongoing updates to ensure the inclusion of new and relevant articles in the context of abortion within Africa. It is also important to note that the database is not exclusive to research professionals and students but also those who engage and work within clinics, and those who may express interest in acquiring knowledge of abortion services, regulations, restrictions, and policies.
Its accessible features allow users to effectively conduct searches by author(s), year of publication, title of publication, language of publication, the country or region, keywords and more. Having such a feature enables users from around the globe to access pertinent information in one place, rather than scrambling to find information on other search engine platforms, which can also be quite tedious. To address this, the platform displays the abstract information and redirects users to external links where the articles can be read and/or downloaded. The database also includes some articles which require some form of remittance but can be accessed by logging in with an institutional account or subscription access. We encourage individuals to make use of the user-friendly tools to search for key topics of interest and share with their friends and colleagues about this unique platform.
Our updated feedback widget allows users to engage with us on what more they would like included in the database. We expect that this will lead to the inclusion of more literature on emerging issues relevant to abortion in Africa. We hope to ensure that those who actively utilize and rely on it to find material ranging from articles, publications, briefs, and media files, will be able to do so efficiently. So please be sure to subscribe and reach out if you have any questions, concerns, or suggestions!
Visit the online database here.