Economic impact of unsafe abortion-related morbidity and mortality: evidence and estimation challenges.
Article Type: Brief article
Subject: Abortion (Complications and side effects)
Abortion (Economic aspects)
Medical care, Cost of (Analysis)
Morbidity (Risk factors)
Mortality (United States)
Mortality (Risk factors)
Pub Date: 11/01/2009
Publication: Name: Reproductive Health Matters Publisher: Reproductive Health Matters Audience: General Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Family and marriage; Health; Women's issues/gender studies Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2009 Reproductive Health Matters ISSN: 0968-8080
Issue: Date: Nov, 2009 Source Volume: 17 Source Issue: 34
Geographic: Geographic Scope: United States Geographic Code: 1USA United States
Accession Number: 225074475
Full Text: Michael Vlassoff, Jessica Shearer, Damian Walker and Henry Lucas, 2008

Unsafe abortion-related morbidity and mortality exacts a huge cost in developing countries in terms of the lives and health of women and economically. The empirical data needed to estimate these costs are scant, but several studies of direct health system costs are available. These data allow cost estimation using two distinct methodologies, one which uses cost-per-patient data, and one which uses a model of ideal treatment inputs. Using these two methodologies, the total cost to the developing world is between US$ 375-838 million annually, with a central estimate of around $500 million. Regional cost estimates show abortion complications are considerably more expensive to treat in sub-Saharan Africa than Latin America. Millions of women with serious complications receive no treatment. If they were able to do so, ah additional US$ 375 million would be expended, but this estimate rests on scant empirical data. The cost of long-term morbidities, mainly infertility and chronic reproductive tract infections, may cost many billions of dollars annually, while the loss to the economies of developing countries from lower productivity may be more than US$ 400 million. Out-of-pocket expenses for women and their families may amount to a further US$ 600 million. Although few data exist for these latter estimates, they show that the total cost of unsafe abortion is many times greater than the direct health costs, for which solid evidence does exist.

Available from:

Institute of Development Studies

Brighton, UK


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