Public Health System Cost of Unsafe Abortion in Kenya

Project Period

October 2013 - December 2016

Project Partners

  • William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
  • Ipas

The purpose of the study is to analyse the public sector cost of unsafe abortion and explore the constraints providers encounter in offering quality abortion care to women. The study will provide much-needed evidence on the economic rationale for addressing unsafe abortion in Kenya; offer baseline information on the cost implications of unsafe abortions in order to support the development and delivery of innovative interventions in the new legal environment, and support policy engagement and advocacy for legal and policy reforms in Kenya.

Unsafe abortion remains a major social and public health issue in Kenya. APHRC’s recent nationwide research on abortion showed that nearly half a million induced abortions occurred in Kenya in 2012, corresponding to an induced abortion ratio of 30 abortions per 100 live births, and a rate of 48 abortions per 1000 women of reproductive age. The study established that seventy-seven percent of women who presented for post-abortion care (PAC) in Kenyan health facilities were treated for moderately-severe and severe complications, such as sepsis, shock, or organ failure. While it has been suggested that the management and treatment of complications of unsafe abortion exacts substantial toll on scarce health systems resources in Kenya, the actual public health cost of unsafe abortion remains unknown. Currently, the bulk of abortion-related admissions in Kenya are managed in public health facilities. Many of these complications are emergencies and require extended hospital stays, intensive care, and attendance by highly-skilled health providers. Up-to-date information on the costs of treating complications of unsafe abortion has implications for budgeting and resource allocation, raising the urgent need for a careful understanding of the public sector cost of unsafe abortion in Kenya. Such evidence has potential to guide interventions, reduce costs to the health system, and improve women’s access to high-quality comprehensive abortion care, counselling, and family planning services, and other reproductive health services at all levels of a country’s health system.


Project Period

  • October 2013 – December 2016