To conduct a systematic review of the status of post-abortion care (PAC) provision in Eastern and Southern Africa with particular reference to reach, quality and costs of these services.
We searched Pubmed, EMBASE, Science Direct, POPLINE and Web of Science for articles published between 2000 and October 2017 presenting primary or secondary data from one or more countries in the region.
Seventy articles representing data from fourteen countries were abstracted and included in the review. Implementation of PAC services was found to be patchy across countries for which data was available. However, there is evidence of efforts to introduce PAC at lower level health facilities, to use mid-level providers and to employ less invasive medical techniques. Eleven countries from the region were not represented in this review, exposing a considerable knowledge gap over the state of PAC in the region. The disparate access for rural women and girls, the suboptimal service quality and the neglect of adolescent-specific needs were critical gaps in the current PAC provision.
PAC provision and research in this domain cannot be detached from the broader legal and societal context, as social stigma constitutes a major blockage to the advancement of the service. Adolescent girls are a particularly vulnerable and underserved group in the region.
The next generation research on PAC should favor multi-country and interdisciplinary study designs with a view to understanding inter-regional differences and supporting advancement towards universal access of PAC by 2030.