New from Ipas: Training guide for future health professionals

Spanish version now available also!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Youth Act training guide

Young people studying to be health professionals will become the leaders who shape women’s reproductive health policies and services in the years to come. The problem: Abortion is a critical but often neglected topic in health science education.

Designed with and for health sciences students, Youth act for safe abortion: A training guide for future health professionals teaches the importance of safe abortion for women’s health and rights—and provides strategies young people can use now to increase access to safe abortion for women of all ages.

“In many countries, medical students are not taught about unsafe abortion and the impact it has on women’s rights and maternal health,” points out Joško Miše, former president of the International Federation of Medical Student Associations (IFMSA), an organization led by medical students and representing more than 120 national medical student associations in more than 100 countries. Health sciences students therefore need special training materials on comprehensive abortion care and ways to increase women’s—including young women’s—access to safe services.

In 2013, Ipas and IFMSA began developing a guide for training health sciences students—and other interested audiences—on the importance of safe abortion access for women’s health. Materials and activities in the guide address human rights, legal and public health issues surrounding abortion and introduce advocacy approaches. Intended as a versatile and adaptable resource, the guide can be implemented as a three-day workshop or as shorter training sessions and activities.

“Leaders in sexual and reproductive health within IFMSA tested and refined all the activities and materials in this guide by piloting the training at three different global and regional IFMSA meetings attended by future doctors,” explains Karah Pedersen, Ipas senior youth advisor. “Thanks to IFMSA’s extensive involvement in developing this guide, we have great confidence in its use and effectiveness for training tomorrow’s health professionals.”

Download the guide:

Spanish version:

“A training like this is valuable and important for medical students quite simply because women around the world either die or are harmed by unsafe abortion, so promoting access to safe abortions is a very easy solution to prevent that."

- Emily Stewart, University of Toronto medical student and IFMSA student trainer




Closer look: What’s in the guide?

Five learning modules provide students with a well-rounded introduction to safe abortion and surrounding issues:

1. Introduction to abortion places abortion in the broader context of sexual and reproductive health and explores how unsafe abortion affects women and societies.

2. Human rights, gender and abortion discusses rights-based perspectives of abortion as well as gender norms, discrimination and social factors that influence women’s abortion rights and access.

3. Barriers to safe abortion and strategies to address them presents barriers that women and adolescents encounter when seeking safe abortion and identifies ways future and practicing health professionals can reduce those obstacles.

4. Comprehensive abortion care introduces essential elements of woman-centered comprehensive abortion care, including counseling and safe abortion methods. Note: This module—and this guide overall—demystifies clinical aspects of abortion but does NOT prepare students for abortion service delivery.

5. Youth act for safe abortion provides various strategies for advancing abortion rights and increasing women’s access to safe services—and builds skills in advocacy, peer education and abortion accompaniment.