Reproductive Health Characteristics of Young Malawian Women Seeking Post-Abortion Care
Brooke A. Levandowski, Ipas
Erin Pearson, Ipas
Juliana Lunguzi, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Malawi
Hans Katengeza, Malawi Ministry of Health
Abortion is illegal in Malawi except when the mother’s life is endangered, yet complications of abortion account for the majority of admissions to gynecological wards. This study collected data on all post-abortion care (PAC) cases (n=2076) reporting to all 166 PAC-providing health facilities in Malawi over 30 days. Analyses were stratified by very young women (age 12-17) and youth (age 18-24). Of all clients, 7.4% were very young and 42.6% were youth. Almost half of very young clients were married (47.5%) compared to 74.4% of youth. No very young women reported a previous abortion compared to 2.9% of youth. Being unmarried was associated with previous abortion and low levels of contraceptive use among youth and with report of a self-induction attempt among both groups (p<0.01). These findings indicate lack of access to modern contraception and may indicate that young women’s sexuality is stigmatized, impeding access to education and safe services.