J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2017 Oct 17. doi: 10.1089/jwh.2016.6144.

Building bridges: a case for community health worker provision of misoprostol-only abortion in the first trimester

Tebbets C, Santana D, Ros Silvestre J and Redwine D


Introduction: The consequences of unsafe abortion are devastating to women, their families, and their communities. Medication abortion presents an important alternative to harmful self-induction practices and surgical intervention under questionable circumstances. In settings where mifepristone is unavailable, the use of misoprostol alone is a safe and effective option for terminating an unwanted pregnancy. Studies have demonstrated the safety and efficacy of administration of misoprostol by community health workers (CHW) for indications such as postpartum hemorrhage and treatment of incomplete abortion.

Objectives: The current study assesses the safety and efficacy of CHW managing misoprostol-only abortion in the first trimester.

Methods: A retrospective review of clinical files of women who received abortion services in three countries in Latin America between April 2009 and December 2015 included analysis of 173 cases.

Results: In 94% of cases, the pregnancy was terminated without any further intervention. In the remaining cases, clients were referred for manual vacuum aspiration. In four cases, a complication was reported by the provider. In one, the complication was promptly resolved through referral to a higher level of care; in the remaining three, the complication was resolved directly by the provider. In 98% of cases, women reported being satisfied with the treatment they received.

Conclusion: This study demonstrates that CHW are able to provide misoprostol-only abortion services to women effectively and safely. The benefits of this model of care also extend beyond the abortion service: CHW are able to offer women a comprehensive range of quality health services, including contraceptive services, increasing access to vital healthcare in areas with few other options.

Comment: A nice study which shows how doctors are not necessary for abortions with misoprostol. Community Health Workers can do a perfect job and can at the same time talk about post-abortion contraception. (HMV)