OB-GYN SOCIETIES – Advocating safe abortion: outcomes of a multi-country needs assessment on the potential role of national societies of obstetrics and gynecology 

by Irene de Vries, Lisa Juanola van Keizerswaard, Bianca Tolboom, Susan Bulthuis, Anke van der Kwaak, Jaydeep Tank, Korrie de Koning

International Journal of Gynaecologists & Obstetricians, 2020;148:282-89   (Open access)


In 2019 the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO) embarked on an
initiative that aims to strengthen the capacity of 10 national societies of obstetrics and gynecology (ObGyn) in advocacy for safe abortion. In 2018 needs assessments that entailed a desk study, interviews, and stakeholder workshops were conducted in Benin, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Kenya, Mali, Mozambique, Panama, Peru, Uganda, and Zambia. The general aim of the needs assessments was to gain a deeper understanding of the contextual situation and identify the needs of ObGyn societies in relation to safe abortion advocacy. This paper provides a cross-country analysis of the outcomes of the needs assessments and reflects on the capabilities, barriers, and opportunities to strengthen this role of ObGyn societies. Common barriers, such as unavailability of services, lack of technical guidance, unawareness of and ambiguity about the legal framework, provider attitudes, and abortion stigma, pose challenges for ObGyn societies to work constructively on safe abortion advocacy. However, ObGyn societies have a strong position due to their strategic networks and technical credibility and can be a facilitator in healthcare providers’ advocacy role. Five strategies were developed to strengthen the capacity of ObGyn societies in safe abortion advocacy.