EASTERN EUROPE / CENTRAL ASIA – National Abortion Protocols in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

The project “Bringing the WHO recommendations on safe abortion closer to women, in countries of Eastern Europe and Central Asia, by supporting the development of national clinical guidelines and protocols on unwanted pregnancy,” is making notable progress toward improving the quality of abortion services in the region. It is coordinated by the Reproductive Health Training Center (RHTC) in Moldova and supported by the Safe Abortion Action Fund,

Just under a year ago, a group of sexual and reproductive health experts from 12 Eastern European and Central Asian countries together launched the Regional Reproductive Health and Rights Coalition. As part of the aforementioned project, six Coalition member countries committed themselves to conducting a thorough review of existing national abortion protocols, including monitoring and evaluation plans, and revising their contents to be better aligned with the latest WHO recommendations.

During this time, RHTC has been in regular contact with respective country coordinators, providing assistance and guidance when necessary. The ground that country coordinators and their teams have covered has been tremendous. Five countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Moldova, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan) have already carried out detailed situational analyses, evaluating access to and quality of abortion services and comparing their national protocols to international guidelines. The full analyses can be found on the Coalition’s website – they are currently only available in Russian, though the RHTC team is working to disseminate English translations in the near future.

Furthermore, one of the countries, Uzbekistan, has already applied the results of its situational analysis to revise its national abortion protocol. Having received additional input from RHTC, the Uzbekistan team are currently adapting the protocol as necessary and will soon be prepared to present it for approval by the Ministry of Health. Likewise, other participating countries are now following suit, collectively working to assure that their protocols are in congruence with WHO recommendations.

In the coming months, country coordinators and their teams will continue their collaborative efforts to achieve project objectives and advance women’s fundamental right to safe abortion.

SOURCES: Reproductive Health Training Center, in: ASTRA Bulletin on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights, No.7 (186), 11 October 2019 ; TOP PHOTO from Video, Moldova Conference, November 2018 ; See also Report of the Regional Conference, Campaign newsletter, 17 December 2018