Principal Investigator: Sara Casey, Columbia University
Post-abortion care (PAC) is a critical life-saving intervention that is often severely lacking in humanitarian settings. Humanitarian health actors should support health workers to provide PAC, including post-abortion contraception. Despite widespread abortion stigma, community attitudes are complex and our study showed a clear opening to address community attitudes and stigma that prevent women from seeking PAC.
Unsafe abortion is a major cause of maternal mortality in humanitarian settings. Post-abortion care (PAC) is a life-saving intervention that includes treatment of complications of spontaneous and unsafe abortion, counselling to identify and respond to a woman’s health needs and the provision of contraception and other sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services. However, PAC services are only sporadically available in humanitarian settings. Furthermore, stigma and misconceptions about PAC and abortion among communities, health care providers and program staff inhibit women’s and girls’ access to and utilization of PAC services.
This research sought to build the evidence base on effective strategies for providing PAC in humanitarian settings. A mixed methods study was conducted to understand the factors that influence access to, use and provision of PAC services in South Sudan and one other location. These two country sites were selected to provide evidence from diverse settings with different cultures and religions, including demand-side barriers to service utilisation and community perceptions of abortion that can be used to improve abortion-related programming guidance.
These findings are being integrated into capacity building activities and service provision by IMC, aiming to improve PAC services in the study sites.
The study offers the following recommendations for practitioners and policymakers concerned with the provision of PAC services.
The study team plans to publish three articles on the two country settings and the combined results. In-country dissemination workshops have been held, and the team intend to present at the next IAWG meeting in 2022.
The study team contributed to this webinar hosted by the IAWG Safe Abortion Care Sub-Working Group. The panel explored community perceptions around safe abortion in South Sudan, MISP implementation gaps and challenges in Colombia, and innovative use of “legal risk” as a lens to assess the legal context for abortion work.View
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