Comprehensive Abortion Care: Health education empowers women

 

 

EAEA GRUNDTVIG AWARD 2015. Every year, EAEA hands out the EAEA Grundtvig Award to successful projects in adult education. In 2015, three projects were awarded with a prize: an international, a European and a national initiative. The theme of this year’s award was Adult Education and Health.

The article series spreads good practices by introducing the nominees of the EAEA Grundtvig Award 2015.

 

Women are the backbone of the family, the society and also of the socio-economic development of a country. To enable them to fill this role, it is essential for society to preserve the health of women – especially of those within the productive and reproductive age. According to the Ghana Living Standards Survey Report of the Fifth Round, only about 17 percent of women reported that they, or their partners, were using modern forms of contraception. This statistics has significant implications on unplanned pregnancies.

Combatting unsafe abortion methods

Unsafe abortion has become the leading cause of maternal mortality and injury in Ghana despite the liberalisation of the abortion law since 1985. It is estimated that about 11 percent of maternal deaths are a result of unsafe abortion practices. Moreover, a substantial proportion of women who survive the unsafe procedure further experience complications. Many women seek services of unqualified and unsafe providers or do not seek adequate post abortion care because they are not informed about the abortion law of Ghana and do not know their reproductive health rights. All these circumstances combined lead to many preventable hospital admissions and even deaths.

Training communities and young women

The Comprehensive Abortion Care-project (CAC) seeks to reduce unsafe abortion practices among young women between the age of 10 to 24 by advocating and promoting comprehensive abortion care to reduce maternal mortality and morbidity in Ghana by 2020.

When the CAC-project started, ten trainers were instructed to sensitise communities on the dangers of unsafe abortions and the availability of CAC services within their communities. In these qualification measures, the trainers were comprehensively trained to promote awareness of CAC. Some of skills gained in the trainings are:

  • to hold advocacy meetings;
  • techniques of community outreach;
  • talking about CAC in schools and churches using role play;
  • interpersonal communication;
  • usage of social behaviour change in communication as an interactive tool to make the topics participatory and meaningful;
  • referral of women and girls to Family Planning counselling and comprehensive abortion care services.

With these competences, trainers were able to build up knowledge among the youth about the issue of teenage pregnancy, and they informed the participants about how to claim their sexual and reproductive health rights. In intensive counselling, girls learned about the need of family planning, but also about related topics of Comprehensive Abortion Care to prevent teenage pregnancies, and maternal deaths associated with unplanned pregnancies.

Spreading the message

The advocacy work of the CAC-project for the elimination of unsafe abortion has helped reducing maternal mortality in Ghana. In the project period between January and December 2014, CAC reached more than 10,000 people in Ghana. Due to their involvement in local communities, the trainers in the CAC project sensitised community members on sexual and reproductive health. These community members became multipliers to spread awareness and acceptance of safe abortion services in their region.

 

Project coordinator:

Hope For Future Generations, Project coordinator: Sandra Ameyaw Amankwaa

Project partners:

  • Ipas Ghana
  • Ghana Health Services

Resources: