UGANDA / NIGERIA / DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO – Strengthening healthcare providers’ capacity for safe abortion and post-abortion care services in humanitarian settings

Lessons learned from the clinical outreach refresher training model (S-CORT) in Uganda, Nigeria, and the Democratic Republic of Congo

by Nguyen Toan Tran, Alison Greer, Talemoh Dah, Bibiche Malilo, Bergson Kakule, et al

Conflict and Health 2021;15(20)


Background – Fragile and crisis-affected countries account for most maternal deaths worldwide, with unsafe abortion being one of its leading causes. This case study aims to describe the Clinical Outreach Refresher Training strategy for sexual and reproductive health (S-CORT) designed to update health providers’ competencies on uterine evacuation using both medications and manual vacuum aspiration. The paper also explores stakeholders’ experiences, recommendations for improvement, and lessons learned.

Methods – Using mixed methods, we evaluated three training workshops that piloted the uterine evacuation module in 2019 in humanitarian contexts of Uganda, Nigeria, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Results – Results from the workshops converged to suggest that the module contributed to increasing participants’ theoretical knowledge and possibly technical and counseling skills. Equally noteworthy were their confidence building and positive attitudinal changes promoting a rights-based, fearless, non-judgmental, and non-discriminatory approach toward clients. Participants valued the hands-on, humanistic, and competency-based training methodology, although most regretted the short training duration and lack of practice on real clients. Recommendations to improve the capacity development continuum of uterine evacuation included recruiting the appropriate health cadres for the training; sharing printed pre-reading materials to all participants; sustaining the availability of medication and supplies to offer services to clients after the training; and helping staff through supportive supervision visits to accelerate skills transfer from training to clinic settings.

Conclusions – When the lack of skilled human resources is a barrier to lifesaving uterine evacuation services in humanitarian settings, the S-CORT strategy could offer a rapid hands-on refresher training opportunity for service providers needing an update in knowledge and skills. Such a capacity-building approach could be useful in humanitarian and fragile settings as well as in development settings with limited resources as part of an overall effort to strengthen other building blocks of the health system.