Abortion among adolescents in Africa: A review of practices, consequences, and control strategies.Int J Health Plann Manage 2019IJ
Developing countries register 98% of unsafe abortion annually, 41% of which occur among women aged between 15 and 25 years. Additionally, 70% of hospitalizations due to unsafe abortion are among girls below 20 years of age.
This study unveils abortion practices in Africa, its consequences, and control strategies among adolescents.
Online databases that provided relevant information on the topic were searched. A Google Scholar search yielded 623 000 results, PubMed yielded 1134 results, African Journals Online yielded 110 results, and PsycINFO yielded eight results. A total of 25 studies published from 2000 to 2018 that met the Critical Appraisal Skills Programme (CASP) standard were thematically reviewed.
These studies indicated that abortion is a neglected problem in health care in developing countries, and yet decreasingly safe abortion practices dominate those settings. Adolescents who have unintended pregnancies may resort to unsafe abortion practices due to socio-economic factors and the cultural implications of being pregnant before marriage and the legal status of abortion. Adolescents clandestinely use self-prescribed drugs or beverages, insert sharps in the genitals, and most often consult traditional service providers. Abortion results in morbidities such as sepsis, severe anaemia, disabilities, and, in some instances, infertility and death. Such events can be controlled by the widening availability of and accessibility to contraceptives among adolescents, advocacy, and comprehensive sexuality education and counselling.
Adolescents are more likely to use clandestine methods of abortion whose consequences are devastating, lifelong, or even fatal. Awareness and utilization of youth-friendly services would minimize the problem.