Unsafe abortion is common in Kinshasa, which contributes to high rates of maternal morbidity and mortality. Little is known about the complications and treatment experienced by women seeking postabortion care at health facilities in the city.
Data from 867 women admitted to a sample of health facilities providing postabortion care in Kinshasa in 2016 were drawn from a Prospective Morbidity Survey. A measure of severity of postabortion complications was developed on the basis of information from these women and their primary care provider. Generalized ordered logistic regression analyses were used to examine associations between the characteristics of postabortion care patients and complication severity.
Nearly three-fourths (72%) of postabortion care patients were classified as certainly having had an induced abortion, and another 16% as probably having had one. Sixteen percent of postabortion care patients experienced severe complications, 46% moderate complications and 33% mild complications; 5% had no evidence of complications. Severity of complications was associated with certain patient characteristics: For example, poor patients and those who had never been married had elevated odds of having experienced severe or moderate complications rather than mild or no complications (odds ratios, 1.8–1.9). Patients’ complications were most commonly treated with such outdated methods as dilation and curettage and digital curettage (49% and 23%, respectively); only 11% of patients received medication for pain.
Policies and programs promoting contraceptive use and safe legal abortion are needed in Kinshasa to reduce women's recourse to unsafe abortion. Improved quality postabortion care provision is also needed, including World Health Organization–recommended methods.
At the time the research was conducted, Akinrinola Bankole was director of international research, Sophia Chae and Onikepe Owolabi were senior research scientists, and Jesse Philbin was research associate—all with the Guttmacher Institute, New York. Patrick Kayembe is professor in the Department of Epidemiology & Biostatistics, Kinshasa School of Public Health, University of Kinshasa, DRC. Crispin Mabika is professor, Department of Population Sciences and Development, University of Kinshasa.