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Trop Med Int Health. 2009 Sep;14(9):1128-33. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-3156.2009.02327.x. Epub 2009 Jul 2.

Unsafe abortion in urban and rural Tanzania: method, provider and consequences.

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Department of International Health, Immunology & Microbiology, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen K, Denmark.



To describe unsafe abortion methods and associated health consequences in Tanzania, where induced abortion is restricted by law but common and known to account for a disproportionate share of hospital admissions.


Cross-sectional study of women admitted with alleged miscarriage: 278 in rural Tanzania and 473 in urban Tanzania. Women who had undergone a clandestinely induced abortion were identified by an empathetic approach and interviewed in detail about the procedure. Information about complications was obtained from the patient file.


Sixty-two per cent in rural Tanzania and 63% in urban Tanzania stated that they had had an unsafe induced abortion. The abortion had been induced by an unskilled provider in 46% of rural women and 60% of urban women. Herbs and roots had commonly been used for induction, in 42% of rural and 54% of urban women. The method most often associated with abortion complications was catheter/roots, whereas the method least often associated with complications was herbs.


The large number of women identified as having had unsafe abortion together with the prevalent use of herbs calls for attention.

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