Training on medical abortion and Post-Abortion Care in Democratic Republic of Congo

In February 2018, Marlies and Leticia from Women on Waves provided a five-day training
session on medical abortion, post-abortion care, contraceptives, legal aspects of safe abortion,
and how to communicate and create a safe abortion project.

The training was done in cooperation with GFV-VIH, a local organisation based in South Kivu, DRC as part of a broader
three-year project funded by SAAF and was the initial launching of the program. The training was attended by 40 people. It was a very motivated group with people from very different backgrounds, from a local women group, community workers and a medically trained group of nurses, midwives, pharmacist and doctors. During two days the activities were divided into medical and non-medical related sessions so that the training could meet the needs and expectations of all the participants.
The training for the medically trained participants was focused on post abortion care and IUD training using a model and papayas for practicing the manual vacuum aspiration. At the same time, the non-medically educated participants received training in value clarification, setting up a safe abortion hotline, and dissemination of abortion. The combination of a human rights lawyer and a medical doctor as trainers proved very successful. With the support and assistance of a local obstetrician, the training was able to address the challenges in this region with very restrictive laws. As a result the first practical steps were taken immediately after the training. Even participants of the training immediately implemented the lessons and 8 women (trainees) started using effective long acting family
planning, like oral contraceptive pill (3), implant (3) and IUD (2) and 1 woman was counseled for medical abortion. This was an enormous achievement as the trainers learned that there are many myths about the use of long acting contraceptives. They were able to visit 2 SRHR clinics; SOS-FEC and GVP-MASAR. As the last clinic offered more extended medical service on mother- and childcare as well, they noticed less stigma for clients visiting the clinic for contraception and related problems, so this seems an important factor.
The need for trainings like this was confirmed during the introduction session on the first day. Every trainee knew a woman or girl who had died due to unsafe abortion. This is one of these stories: Her name is J, single mother of two children who lived with her older sister. She found herself pregnant with her brother-in-law and wanted to terminate the pregnancy clandestinely because the same brother-in-law was already living with her sister whom he also made pregnant. She arrived in the "Mother-Child Center" in Uvira in a very bad medical condition with peritonitis and sepsis and her live could not be saved. How many deaths must we still register so that the law on abortions can be reviewed? Many similar cases are recorded in the remote environment, landlocked and inaccessible without being reported. Letting thousands of women and girls continue to die with such complications is a social injustice. Let us unite to change this binding law on abortion.