WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION – New clinical handbook launched to support good quality abortion care

The World Health Organization (WHO) has released a new handbook for health workers to help them deliver good quality abortion services. The publication provides detailed clinical advice to support implementation of WHO’s consolidated guidance on abortion care, published in 2022.

Clinical services relating to abortion include not only the procedure itself, but also the provision of information and counselling, pain management and post-abortion care, including contraception. In line with WHO’s updated recommendations, the Clinical practice handbook for quality abortion care additionally provides expanded guidance on how health workers can support self-management approaches, and telemedicine, where this is available.

Although this publication focuses primarily on the clinical aspects of abortion care, health workers also need to be supported so that they can provide these services – without fear of judgement or recrimination. In early 2023, WHO released an evidence brief, which aims to help policymakers address law and policy-related barriers that limit access to safe abortion. This is one of a range of tools that support practitioners and interested countries in implementing WHO’s guidance, including a pocket guide and wall chart with medical abortion recommendations, and a toolkit on the competencies that health workers need to deliver quality abortion and family planning services.

The new document replaces the 2014 version of the clinical handbook. Released at the 33rd Congress of the International Confederation of Midwives in Bali, Indonesia, it is relevant to a range of health workers involved in delivering abortion services, from midwives to physicians, nurses and pharmacists.

SOURCE: WHO News, 12 June 2023 ; PHOTO: WHO/SRH/Hickmatu Leigh, Sierra Leone