Reprod Health Matters 2015 Feb;22(44 Suppl 1):94-103

The Role of Auxiliary Midwives and Health Volunteers in access to medical abortion in rural Nepal

Puri M, Tamang A, Shrestha P and Joshi D

Abstract Medical abortion was introduced in Nepal in 2009, but rural women's access to medical abortion services remained limited. We conducted a district-level operations research study to assess the effectiveness of training 13 auxiliary nurse-midwives as medical abortion providers, and 120 female community health volunteers as communicators and referral agents for expanding access to medical abortion for rural women. Interviews with service providers and women who received medical abortion were undertaken and service statistics were analysed. Compared to a neighbouring district with no intervention, there was a significant increase in the intervention area in community health volunteers' knowledge of the legal conditions for abortion, the advantages and disadvantages of medical abortion, safe places for an abortion, medical abortion drugs, correct gestational age for home use of medical abortion, and carrying out a urine pregnancy test. In a one-year period in 201112, the community health volunteers did pregnancy tests for 584 women and referred 114 women to the auxiliary nurse-midwives for abortion; 307 women in the intervention area received medical abortion services from auxiliary nurse-midwives. There were no complications that required referral to a higher-level facility except for one incomplete abortion. Almost all women who opted for medical abortion were happy with the services provided. The study demonstrated that auxiliary nurse-midwives can independently and confidently provide medical abortion safely and effectively at the sub-health post level, and community health volunteers are effective change agents in informing women about medical abortion.

Comment: Like in the previous abstract about pharmacists in Zambia this paper from Nepal confirms that medical abortion is now so simple technically and safe that also nurse-midwives can prescribe it and provide adequate follow-up. (HMV)