Pharmacies play an important and growing role in women’s access to medical abortion. This systematic review assesses the level and quality of pharmacy provision of medical abortion in low- and middle-income countries.
The review also identified interventions to improve quality of pharmacy provision. The review identified 22 studies from 16 countries reporting on level and quality of medical abortion provision through pharmacies, and three intervention studies. Despite widespread awareness and provision of medical abortion drugs by pharmacies, even in legally restricted contexts, most studies found that pharmacy workers had poor knowledge of effective regimens. Evidence on interventions to improve pharmacy and drug shop provision of medical abortion was limited and generally low quality, but indicated that training could be effective in improving knowledge. The results of this systematic review suggest that programmes should focus on the development and rigorous evaluation of innovative interventions to improve women’s access to information about self-management of medical abortion in low- and middle-income countries.