Integration of post-abortion care: The role of township medical officers and midwives in Myanmar

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Article (peer-reviewed)

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Complications of unsafe abortion are a significant cause of maternal morbidity and mortality in Myanmar, and are recognised by the Ministry of Health as a priority. The Department of Health developed a strategy to address the problem of abortion complications by integrating post-abortion care and contraceptive services into the existing township health system. The quality of post-abortion care was assessed by the Department of Health in 2000, using a baseline survey of health providers and post-abortion women in Bago Division. The integration of post-abortion care was led by the Township Medical Officers, who provided monthly in-service training and supervision of health care workers in each township. Hospital-based doctors and nurses, clinic midwives, village midwives and other volunteer health providers, including traditional birth attendants, were all trained. The role of the local clinic midwife was extended to make follow-up home visits to the women with post-abortion complications and provide them with contraception when requested. Preliminary results show positive outcomes. However, donor-funded projects may have a destabilising effect on township services by diverting attention and resources; donors need to work with government to support its priorities for health care. The future nationwide integration of post-abortion care services into township services should be planned in consultation with Township Medical Officers and midwives, the key providers of these services.