Barriers to access safe abortion services in East Shoa and Arsi Zones of Oromia Regional State, Ethiopia
Background: Unsafe abortion continues to be a major public health problem especially in the developing world. Despite abortion being legally available under several circumstances in Ethiopia after a change in legislation in 2004, a host of barriers and challenges restrict access to safe abortion services, resulting in unintended pregnancies and unsafe abortions, with deleterious consequences for the health and lives of women.
Objective: The main objective of the study was to assess the barriers to accessing safe abortion services from the clients’, health extension workers’ and service providers’ perspective.
Methods: A qualitative research design was used which included 38, 9 and 7 in-depth interviews with women who sought medical abortion, Health Extension Workers and Service providers respectfully.The study was conducted at three purposively selected health facilities found in Adama and Asella towns of East Shoa and Arsi zones of Oromia Regional State. The analysis was done using ATLAS Ti version 7.0 software.
Results: Financial constraints, lack of awareness, stigma and discrimination, religious belief, male dominance and pressure from the family or community, poorly equipped health facilities particularly in the rural areas and weak referral system were mentioned as barriers to accessing safe abortion services.
Conclusion: These barriers deprive women from accessing safe and timely abortion care, thus exposing them to unwanted births or to unsafe abortion and its devastating consequences. Thus, building community awareness about the service, the existing abortion related polices or laws, increasing service delivery points especially in rural areas, and strengthening referral linkages are essential intervention mechanisms to increase accessibility and utilization of safe abortion service. [Ethiop. J. Health Dev. 2015;29(1):13-21]