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The Spotlight Webinar: Delivering safe abortion in the time of COVID-19

Thursday 09 April 2020 MSI Reproductive Choices Safe abortion and post abortion care, Webinar

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The Spotlight, a webinar series hosted by Marie Stopes International, discussing key questions facing our sector.

At the time or writing, the world is in the midst of a global pandemic. Whilst we are all adapting to a rapidly evolving situation, we want to do our part to ensure our communities can still be brought together and learn from each other. Our webinar series – the Spotlight – featuring speakers from Marie Stopes International and partners, aims to bring communities together to discuss key questions facing our sector.

Our first webinar in the series focused around delivering access to safe abortion in the time of COVID-19, sharing the potential impact of the virus on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR), alongside strategies for ensuring women can continue to access safe abortion services during the crisis; through telemedicine, pharmacies and government partnerships.

Featured in the webinar:

Bethan Cobley, Marie Stopes International’s Director of Policy and Partnerships sharing estimations on the potential impact of COVID-19 on our services, challenges facing SRH programmes globally and an overview of the strategies we can take a global and local level to sustain access for women. 

Satyajit Pradhan, Evidence 2 Action Director, Marie Stopes Nepal sharing the inspiring progress the Nepal programme have already made. Nepali services were forced to close under the lockdown, as providers were unable to travel to the services. In tandem, their call centres were seeing an increase in calls from women seeking safe abortion care. However, by working in partnership with government, and with support from WHO and UNFPA, the Nepal team have been able to access mobility passes for providers and re-open eleven centres to date, with more in the pipeline, ensuring women can still access life-changing safe abortion and contraceptive care. 

Dr Catriona Melville, Deputy Medical Director and Jacquie O’Brien, Director of External Affairs and Policy, Marie Stopes Australia presenting their telemedicine programme, which was the first in Australia and received positive feedback from both providers and clients during an external evaluation by Ibis reproductive health. Dr Catriona shared details on their criteria for clients accessing telehealth, the client journey, the support available to clients and how the model is being adapted under COVID-19. 

Dr Rodica Comendant, Director of the Reproductive Health Training Center (RHTC), as a grantee of Safe Abortion Action Fund, presented the telemedicine programme RHTC have set up in post-conflict regions of Moldova, delivering care for women unable to travel for care under COVID-19. As a consultant for Women Help Women, Dr Rodica shared key insights on setting up telemedicine schemes in low- and middle-income settings. 

Katy Footman, Marie Stopes International’s Senior Research on SA/PAC sharing the important role of pharmacy provision in our work to eliminate unsafe abortion, particularly in low- and middle-income settings where pharmacies can be the first port-of-call for women seeking abortion care, and the increased importance under COVID-19. Katy shared the challenges that can be expected for pharmacy provision under COVID and evidence-based strategies for how we can support women to safely self-administer medical abortion pills from pharmacy settings. 

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