Induced abortion in Papua-New Guinea: experience and opinions of health professionals

Kopunye, Francisca, Mola, Glen, Woods, Cindy, and de Costa, Caroline (2021) Induced abortion in Papua-New Guinea: experience and opinions of health professionals. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, 61 (6). pp. 961-968.

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Background: Papua-New Guinea (PNG) has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world; complications due to unsafe abortion are an important cause. Abortion laws are restrictive, and safe, induced abortions are unavailable to the majority of women, while unsafe abortions are known to be practised throughout the country. The topic of abortion is stigmatised, for women and health professionals.

Aim: To conduct a study of PNG health professionals’ experience of induced abortion and their views on the provision of safe, accessible abortion services for PNG women.

Materials and Methods: A questionnaire developed from similar surveys conducted in Australia and New Zealand was distributed in 2017 to doctors working in provincial hospitals of the public health system; in 2020, the questionnaire was distributed to doctors and nursing staff in Port Moresby General Hospital, and to medical, nursing and health sciences students in the University of Papua-New Guinea.

Results: Significant numbers of senior medical officers and nurses reported experience of women presenting following unsafe induced abortion. There was wide variation across all respondents with regard to accurate knowledge of PNG’s abortion laws, and to views on the provision of safe accessible abortion services in the country’s public health system.

Conclusions: Abortion training for service providers and provision of primary care services are necessary to ensure that PNG women have equitable access to abortion care instead of seeking out untrained providers or attempting self-abortion. Innovative approaches also need to be adopted to complement family planning efforts in PNG.

Item ID: 70583
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1479-828X
Keywords: abortion, attitudes, health professionals, knowledge, Papua-New Guinea
Copyright Information: © 2021 The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists
Date Deposited: 24 Nov 2021 01:45
FoR Codes: 32 BIOMEDICAL AND CLINICAL SCIENCES > 3215 Reproductive medicine > 321502 Obstetrics and gynaecology @ 100%
SEO Codes: 20 HEALTH > 2002 Evaluation of health and support services > 200203 Health education and promotion @ 33%
20 HEALTH > 2005 Specific population health (excl. Indigenous health) > 200509 Women's and maternal health @ 34%
20 HEALTH > 2003 Provision of health and support services > 200306 Midwifery @ 33%
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