Testing the safe abortion care model in Ethiopia to monitor service availability, use, and quality

Friday, October 21, 2011

Objective: To implement the Safe Abortion Care (SAC) model in public health facilities in the Tigray region of Ethiopia and document the availability, utilization, and quality of SAC services over time. Methods: The project oriented providers in 50 public health facilities in Tigray to the SAC model. Changes in SAC indicators between baseline and endline were assessed using a retrospective review of procedure logbooks at baseline and prospective monitoring of procedure logbooks for facility performance after introduction of the SAC model. Results: Availability of SAC services increased from 39% to 86% of the recommended number of 5 facilities per 500 000 population, primarily as a result of functional improvements at health centers. Decentralization was accompanied by a 94% increase in the annualized number of women who received services. The proportion of uterine evacuation procedures for induced abortion rose from 7% to 60% (Pb0.01), and the proportion performed with recommended technology increased from 30% to 85% (Pb0.01). The proportion of abortion patients who received modern contraception also increased from 31% to 78% (Pb0.01). Discussion: While widespread service delivery improvements were recorded using the SAC monitoring approach, the project design was built around existing programmatic activities of the local health authority and reflects some related research limitations. For example, there was no comparison group of facilities, timing did not allow for prospective collection of the baseline data before the intervention, and facilities received different levels ofmonitoring support. Conclusion: Using the SAC model, public health facilities tracked progress and made needed adjustments, which improved service delivery. Continued focus on critical safe abortion care elements should increase.