Incidence of induced abortion in Malawi

Monday, July 22, 2013

CONTEXT: Abortion is legally restricted in Malawi, and no data are available on the incidence of the procedure. METHODS: The Abortion Incidence Complications Methodology was used to estimate levels of induced abortion in Malawi in 2009. Data on provision of postabortion care were collected from 166 public, nongovernmental and private health facilities, and estimates of the likelihood that women who have abortions experience complications and seek care were obtained from 56 key informants. Data from these surveys and from the 2010 Malawi Demographic and Health Survey were used to calculate abortion rates and ratios, and rates of pregnancy and unintended pregnancy. RESULTS: Approximately 18,700 women in Malawi were treated in health facilities for complications of induced abortion in 2009. An estimated 67,300 induced abortions were performed, equivalent to a rate of 23 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15–44 and an abortion ratio of 12 per 100 live births. The abortion rate was higher in the North (35 per 1,000) than in the Central region or the South (20–23 per 1,000). The unintended pregnancy rate in 2010 was 139 per 1,000 women aged 15–44, and an estimated 52% of all pregnancies were unintended. CONCLUSIONS: Unsafe abortion is common in Malawi. Interventions are needed to help women and couples avoid unwanted pregnancy, reduce the need for unsafe abortion and decrease maternal mortality.