Tragically lacking: safe abortion care in humanitarian emergencies
Women's Refugee Commission, New York, New York, USA
Formed in 1995, and currently comprising a network of over 1700 individual members from 450 agencies, the Inter-Agency Working Group on Reproductive Health in Crises (IAWG) is a broad-based, highly collabourative coalition committed to expanding and strengthening access to quality reproductive health (RH) services for persons affected by conflict and natural disaster. Among populations affected by humanitarian crises, the IAWG documents gaps, accomplishments and lessons learned; evaluates the state of RH in the field; establishes technical standards for the delivery of RH services; builds and disseminates evidence to policy makers, managers and practitioners; and advocates for the inclusion of crisis-affected persons in global development agendas.
The IAWG undertook a global review of RH in crises from 2012-2014 a decade after its first review from 2002-2004. The 2014 evaluation aimed to identify existing RH services, quantify progress, document gaps and determine directions for future programmes, advocacy and funding. The evaluation is based on seven complementary studies which explore research, institutional capacity to address RH, changes in funding, implementation of the standard minimum priority RH services in a humanitarian emergency, comprehensive RH services in select settings in three countries, and select RH indicators from the United Nation High Commissioner for Refugee’s Health Information System. The IAWG 2014 global review represents a snapshot of RH in humanitarian emergencies.
Findings from the IAWG 2014 global review show a major gap in the availability of safe abortion care despite the increased risks for unwanted pregnancy due to increased risks of sexual violence and lack of access to birth control as a result of displacement and disrupted health systems, in humanitarian emergencies. This presentation will focus on the gap in safe abortion care identified in the global review, published reasons for the gap, and IAWG’s initiatives to address safe abortion care in humanitarian settings.