Health Res Policy Syst 2014 May 13;12(1):24.

Road map to scaling-up: translating operations research study's results into actions for expanding medical abortion services in rural health facilities in Nepal

Puri M, Regmi S, Tamang A and Shrestha P


Background:: Identifying unsafe abortion among the major causes of maternal deaths and respecting the rights to health of women, in 2002, the Nepali parliament liberalized abortion up to 12 weeks of pregnancy on request. However, enhancing women's awareness on and access to safe and legal abortion services, particularly in rural areas, remains a challenge in Nepal despite a decade of the initiation of safe abortion services.

Methods: Between January 2011 and December 2012, an operations research study was carried out using quasi-experimental design to determine the effectiveness of engaging female community health volunteers, auxiliary nurse midwives, and nurses to provide medical abortion services from outreach health facilities to increase the accessibility and acceptability of women to medical abortion. This paper describes key components of the operations research study, key research findings, and follow-up actions that contributed to create a conducive environment and evidence in scaling up medical abortion services in rural areas of Nepal.

Results: : It was found that careful planning and implementation, continuous advocacy, and engagement of key stakeholders, including key government officials, from the planning stage of study is not only crucial for successful completion of the project but also instrumental for translating research results into action and policy change. While challenges remained at different levels, medical abortion services delivered by nurses and auxiliary nurse midwives working at rural outreach health facilities without oversight of physicians was perceived to be accessible, effective, and of good quality by the service providers and the women who received medical abortion services from these rural health facilities.

Conclusions: This research provided further evidence and a road-map for expanding medical abortion services to rural areas by mid-level service providers in minimum clinical settings without the oversight of physicians, thus reducing complications and deaths due to unsafe abortion.

Comment: Here we see that legalization of safe abortion is not enough, but that advocacy and support by health care providers is as important as actions by law makers.(HMV)