Research Priorities for Preventing Unsafe Abortions in the WHO Africa Region


Contraception and Abortion

Unsafe abortion is a commonly neglected sexual and reproductive health and rights issue despite the serious health problems it causes to women and girls in their reproductive ages. It is classified as a main cause of maternal mortality and morbidity. This paper has considered questions that have the greatest potential to successfully reduce unsafe abortions in the resource poor settings.

Methods: We adapted the Child Health and Nutrition Research Initiative (CHNRI) to identify and prioritize many competing sexual and reproductive health and rights research ideas that impact the health of the populations. The implementation was done in three phases which included generation and collection of research ideas from various experts virtually in August 2019 consolidation of the potential questions through thematic analysis conducted in September 2019. Finally, scoring and ranking of the research questions was done in a workshop of experts.

Results: Out of a list of 45 priority research questions, two questions were ranked the highest scoring 28 out of the possible 30. The research priorities include: “The effectiveness of interventions (e.g. counseling or incentives or home visits) to increase post abortion uptake and continuance”, “Reducing repeat abortion on improving maternal health outcomes” and “Evaluation of community-based awareness programs to reduce unwanted pregnancies and encourage women to seek help early”.

Conclusions: Ten key research priorities in preventing unsafe abortion were identified. The priority list covers areas of focus that could effectively impact preventing unsafe abortions while also acting as a knowledge base for researchers, policy makers and other interested stakeholders who would want to invest in this area.

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