Prevention of Unsafe Abortion and its Consequences

Written by: Japheth Ominde Achola, PAC Consortium Co-Chair and Senior Clinical Advisor, EngenderHealth

On behalf of the PAC Consortium, I recently attended a two-day workshop in Johannesburg hosted by our colleagues at FIGO. The meeting was held from 16 -17 May 2014. The regional meeting, “Prevention of Unsafe Abortion and its Consequences,” focused on strengthening postabortion contraception in Eastern, Central, and Southern Africa. The meeting brought together approximately 30 colleagues from ministries of health, FIGO country affiliates, and international organizations from Ethiopia, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, South Africa, Switzerland, Tanzania, Uganda, the United States, and Zambia.

The first day of the workshop included presentations from a number of partner organizations and country teams to share their work on the prevention of unsafe abortion and postabortion care (PAC). The presentations focused on the status of implementation of the country action plans and areas that lend themselves to collaboration between country teams and international organizations. Different countries also reported varying progress in the implementation of their actions plans.  The areas of focus included development of guidelines and standards, advocacy activities, training on CPAC, and postabortion family planning.

Day two provided space for workshop participants to work as country teams to update action plans. The international organizations represented at the workshop systematically moved from one country team to another to hold discussions on what they could do in partnership with the country teams and the resources available for use in implementation of the action plans. The developed draft country action plans were then presented in plenary for inputs and comments from all other participants at the meeting.  As next steps, the country teams were tasked with the responsibility of finalization of the action plans before submission to FIGO for funding and technical support as appropriate.

During the presentations and discussions, postabortion contraception was identified as a component of PAC that had continued to receive low attention. As a result, a call was made to the country teams and partners to consider featuring strengthening this component of PAC or abortion care in their country action plans.

Country teams also discussed challenges they faced during the period of implementation of their action plans including inadequate contraceptive security (limited or erratic supplies of MVA kits and/or drugs), changes in the policy environment, limited financial resources, delays in the approval of standards and guidelines for PAC, and resistance from specific interest groups.

Key takeaways from the meeting include:

  • Postabortion family planning is an integral component of CPAC continues to receive limited attention in most countries.
  • Countries represented at the meeting developed short-term action plans.  Working with support from FIGO and partners, the country teams prioritized, among other issues, the strengthening of postabortion family planning within PAC and other related services in the prevention of unsafe abortion priorities.  To this end they will require significant technical and financial support from partners and stakeholders.
  • Several partners also made pledges to work with the country teams to address specific actions that aim to improve the policy environment, address capacity gaps as well as ensuring security of commodities essential for the prevention of unsafe abortion and its consequences.
  • A more detailed workshop report with the final version of the country action plans may be accessed from FIGO, the organizers of the meeting.