International Planned Parenthood Federation’s (IPPF) introduction of free online training courses on Medical Abortion serves to boost the skills of healthcare providers and enhance maternal health.
IPPF and HowToUseAbortionPill.org co-developed the training course on Medical Abortion to boost healthcare providers’ skills in the provision of care for women within 13 weeks gestation and save more lives.
The training course was developed after the World Health Organisation (WHO). introduced new guidelines on abortion care in March and has been endorsed by the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO) for physicians, midwives, pharmacists, medical students, and community health workers.
WHO expresses concern about the global increase in deaths of women from unsafe abortion which it puts at about 25m annually.
According to WHO, in 2000 for example, one in ten unintended pregnancies end up with unsafe abortion-causing an estimated 7 million hospitalizations and up to 13% of all maternal deaths worldwide.
The 2018 Nigeria Demographic Health Survey estimates that the risk of a woman dying in pregnancy stands at 512 out of every 100,000 and could be higher across some states of the country while an aggregate of about 287,000 deaths is from unsafe abortion with a state like Lagos have as high as 545 deaths of women in pregnancy per 100,000 live births.
Between 2015 and 2019 in Kenya, there were a total of 2,380,000 pregnancies annually. Of these, 1,450,000 pregnancies were unintended and 551,000 ended in abortion. Abortion in Kenya is legal to preserve the pregnant person’s health. However, a majority of abortions in the country are carried out by unqualified practitioners who run unsafe clinics.
Nigeria’s healthcare providers have access to the online training course which is available online globally and has been described as “timely and timeous” by the Chief Medical Director of Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, Professor Adetokunbo Fabamwo who is also a Consultant Gynaecologist and member of the State Safe Engage team.
According to Fabamwo “It is time healthcare providers got to know more about medical abortion. “There is not enough spread of knowledge about medical abortion just as there is a lot of misinterpretation and conception of conflict on what is legal abortion, safe abortion, and medical abortion. And in order to bring clarity to all these different concepts, healthcare providers will definitely benefit from this type of course put together by IPPF and HowToUseAbortionPill.org and endorsed by FIGO.
Chairman, Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Nigeria, Lagos State Dr. Abidoye Gbadegesin equally acknowledged the introduction of the Online Training Course on medical abortion as “very fine, timely and apt”. He encourages all healthcare workers to endeavour to get involved as “it is a development that would enhance professional skills”
Southwest zonal coordinator of the Planned Parenthood Federation of Nigeria, (PPFN) Mrs. Elizabeth Abimbola noted that though abortion is largely illegal in the country; “but the Law still provides some window to allow abortion where the pregnancy is detrimental to the health of the woman and medically found not able to continue with the pregnancy”
Abimbola however urged that the training should be strictly for trained medical personnel who would be able to provide safe management and care for concerned women and assist in further reduction of maternal mortality rate in Nigeria”
The Country Director of Mariestopes International Nigeria, (MSION) Emmanuel Ajah also applauded the Online training course at such a time in Nigeria. He thinks it is time Nigerian healthcare providers should be given the right information to enable them to make informed decisions about safe termination of pregnancy in legal settings as we have in the country.
Ajah however noted that since Mariestopes is one of the care providers in the country recognised to provide service, it would be pleased to have its products Misoclear (misoprostol)and Mariprist (comb-pac) also listed for use.
The training course is a seven-lesson video series accessible via the link’ https://elearning.howtouseabortionpill.org
It covers an overview of abortion care; how to support a medical abortion; symptoms, side effects and complications; and aftercare.
The training is framed around four principles of care: person-centered care, rights-based care, quality, and privacy and confidentiality.
“Abortion care continues to be left off medical training curriculums,” said Mallah Tabot, Lead SRHR Programming at IPPF Africa Region. “This online course will fill a critical gap in the education of many health workers. It has the potential to significantly increase the number of health workers with the skills and knowledge to provide abortion care, especially in low-resource settings, and thereby increase the number of women supported to safely end a pregnancy.”
Medical abortion is a non-invasive method using two pills – mifepristone and misoprostol – or misoprostol alone. Medical abortion is safe and effective and is recommended by the Word Health Organisation (WHO).
Rebecca Wilkins, Technical Lead, Abortion at IPPF noted, “Research shows that when women cannot access safe abortion care, they often seek unsafe methods.
“This training course provides the information and resources necessary for health workers to support women who choose to have a safe abortion with pills in early pregnancy either within or outside a clinical setting”, Wilkins observed.
The course is hosted on a login-based web portal which can be accessed from desktop or mobile and is structured to be an interactive learning experience, complete with quizzes and an option to download a certificate upon successful completion.