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It is 25 years since the International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo, when the world committed to addressing unsafe abortion and putting women at the centre of reproductive health programmes.
Despite that commitment, we still have a long way to go. According to Guttmacher, almost half of all abortions that will occur this year, an estimated 25 million, will be unsafe. It’s predicted that seven million women and girls will suffer devastating injuries and over 22,000 will die.
As the World Health Organization shared in their safe abortion guidelines, almost every single one of these deaths could be prevented. Through sexuality education, contraception, and the provision of safe, legal, induced abortion and post-abortion care, no woman or girl should die for the right to determine her own future.
As we reflect on the progress and challenges since ICPD over two decades ago, two things have become clear:
One, that there is still much work to be done in our efforts to scale up access to safe abortion. Whether it’s a lack of nearby trained practitioners or little clarity over what provision is permitted, barriers to access continue to force women to seek unsafe services.
Two, that we cannot work alone. Our community - as providers, advocates, decision makers and donors - need to come together in new partnerships to ensure safe abortion services are available; to remove the unnecessary barriers that stigmatise women and providers; and to realise the potential of new technologies to increase access.
By collaborating across the sector, we can support providers to scale up solutions that work - supporting community-based providers to expand delivery through task sharing; clear guidelines that ensure providers know when and how they can provide care; working with providers to deliver non-judgemental support - the solutions are often simple, cost effective and transferable.
However, while our efforts have focused on delivering these services and advocating for change, we have not always prioritised documenting what works. While pockets of global and country-specific research exist, evidence is often inaccessible to frontline practitioners and lacks the tangible guidance needed to address programmatic challenges.
As part of our commitment to both sharing our knowledge and to a more collective approach, Marie Stopes International, Ipas, the Safe Abortion Action Fund, IPPF and PSI are delighted to launch the SafeAccess Hub.
Our aim is simple: to share evidence-based, best practice guidance for implementers and policy makers on quality safe abortion and post-abortion care programming. As implementing organisations, we share our own lessons on what works, with the hope that those on the frontline can use these learnings to expand access to life-saving services.
With growing opposition to reproductive rights, it is more important than ever that our community comes together in support of a woman’s right to safe abortion. It is time to remove barriers to access, to put women at the centre of reproductive health programmes and to finally eliminate unsafe abortion, together.
Simon Cooke, CEO of Marie Stopes International
Dr. Anu Kumar, CEO of Ipas
Dr. Alvaro Bermejo, Director General of IPPF
Karl Hofmann, CEO of PSI
Maïté Matos Ichaso, Head of Safe Abortion Action Fund