Pakistan

© RICHARD LORD

Ipas Pakistan Director: Ghulam Shabbir Awan

Each year, thousands of Pakistani women suffer from the consequences of unsafe abortion—and some of them die. Abortion is legal in Pakistan to save a woman’s life or to provide “necessary treatment,” but it is highly stigmatized and safe abortion and postabortion care services are often inaccessible.

Since 2007, Ipas has worked to decrease death and injury from unsafe abortion in Pakistan through socially and culturally sensitive interventions, such as training health-care providers and working closely with government and nongovernmental organizations to improve the quality and availability of postabortion care in public and private health facilities. Ipas Pakistan also works in communities to provide women and their families with the knowledge and social support they need to access safe abortion, postabortion care and contraceptive services.

During COVID-19, ‘Mobilizing with one voice’ in Pakistan

Along with other members of the Pakistan Alliance for Postabortion Care, a national alliance of more than 40 organizations, Ipas Pakistan has called for federal, provincial and private facilities providing sexual and reproductive health care to remain open and continue providing outpatient services and counseling during the pandemic.

We are mobilizing with one voice to make sure there is continuity of safe abortion, postabortion and contraceptive services during this challenging situation.

– Dr. Ghulam Shabbir Awan, director of Ipas Pakistan

Ipas Pakistan also has issued guidance to help country health systems during this escalation of the viral pandemic. Designed to minimize COVID-19 exposure to women and health staff, the guidance recommends offering women the option of abortion with pills, to lessen the need for going to a health facility. It also recommends maximizing the use of telephone or video links through online platforms such as WhatsApp to provide pre- and postabortion care and assessment.

In partnership with government health officials, Ipas Pakistan has developed messages about postabortion care and contraception during COVID-19 that are being disseminated via WhatsApp to more than 1,600 Lady Health Workers throughout the country. Lady Health Workers are community-based and play a crucial role in connecting women to the public health facilities, particularly in Pakistan’s rural areas.

April 29, 2020