Photo by Daniel H. Tong on Unsplash

Expanding Healthcare Worker Roles in Abortion Care

January 18th, 2018

Gynuity joined a Webinar hosted by theSupporting Expanded Roles for Abortion services by Healthcare workers (SERAH)working group
Thursday, 18 January 2018

To increase safe abortion access and mitigate global shortages in abortion health care providers, the World Health Organization (WHO) recently published the evidence-based guideline, Health worker roles in providing safe abortion care and post-abortion contraception, which offers a range of options and recommendations for task-sharing safe abortion care, including the provision of abortion methods, management of abortion complications, and the provision of post-abortion contraception. Based on review of the global evidence, these guidelines recommend a number of tasks that mid-level providers, including midwives, nurses, community health workers, and pharmacists, among others, and women themselves can safely and effectively offer.

The SERAH working group was formed in December 2015 to facilitate a coordinated approach towards moving these guideline recommendations into policy and practice at the country level. SERAH includes representatives from Department for Reproductive Health and Research at WHO, the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO), Gynuity Health Projects, Ibis Reproductive Health, International Campaign for Women’s Right to Safe Abortion, International Confederation of Midwives (ICM), International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), Ipas Global, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), Marie Stopes International (MSI), Pathfinder International, and Population Studies International (PSI).

During this webinar Dr. Bela Ganatra (RHR/WHO) highlighted the key features of the WHO guideline and four panelists which offered illustrative country experiences with task-sharing in abortion care in Colombia, Ethiopia, Kyrgyzstan, and Nepal. Discussions were followed by Q and A from Webinar participants. The webinar was chaired by two representatives from SERAH.

Bela Ganatra, Department of Reproductive Health and Research, WHO
Dr. Bela Ganatra, a physician and behavioural scientist by training is currently the technical lead for the work on preventing unsafe abortion at the Department of Reproductive Health and Research at the World Health Organisation, Geneva. The department’s current work on the topic includes development of global normative guidance on clinical service delivery and policy issues, monitoring global trends in abortion safety, conducting relevant research and providing technical support to countries. She was closely involved with the development of the guideline on health worker roles in safe abortion care and post-abortion contraception.


  • Gunta Lazdane, Prof Reproductive Health, Director of the Public Health Institute, Riga Stradins University, Latvia; ex-Programme Manager Sexual and Reproductive Health, WHO Regional office for Europe

Gunta Lazdane is an obstetrician and gynaecologist and Ph.D. From 2003 to 2017 she was working in the WHO Regional Office for Europe as a Programme Manager, Sexual and Reproductive Health in the Division of Noncommunicable Diseases and Promoting Health through the Life-course. She was assisting 53 WHO Member States in the European Region to improve sexual, reproductive, maternal and newborn health through promoting good health at key stages of life, improving quality of health care, taking into account the need to address social determinants of health and gender, equity and human rights. Dr. Lazdane has participated in many European and global conferences and congresses including International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo in 1994 and the Fourth World Conference on Women, Beijing 1995. She was the Chief Editor of the European Magazine for Sexual and Reproductive Health Entre Nous. Since 2017 she is a Professor Reproductive Health and a Director of the Public Health Institute in the Riga Stradins University, Latvia and continuous to share her experience with students and her peers in Latvia and other countries.

  • Kidest Lulu Hagos, Deputy Country Director, Pathfinder International Ethiopia

Kidest Lulu Hagos is a medical doctor with public health specialty, working for Pathfinder Ethiopia as a Technical Director and Deputy Country Director. Her previous experiences include working as a general practitioner in District and Referral Hospitals, as an Assistant Professor of Public Health in Jimma University. She has served in the field of FP/RH for the past 13 years in different international organizations also including USAID- Ethiopia; The Millennium Villages Project - The Earth Institute at Columbia University; and WHO Ethiopia. Kidest is very passionate about improving the lives of Ethiopian women through betterment of access and quality of SRH services, ensuring women’s equality and fighting for the abolishment of harmful traditional practices.

  • Swaraj Rajbhandari, Senior Ob/Gyn & Senior MNCH Advisor, Nepal

Dr. Swaraj Rajbhandari is an OB/GYN and has worked extensively in implementation of quality reproductive health services all around the world. She is a founding member and past-President of NESOG and of the Menopause Society of Nepal. She played a vital role in establishing PAC services in Fiji, Malawi, Myanmar and Nepal. She provided technical assistance to the Government of Cambodia to expand Safe Abortion services along with long term family planning services through a DFID funded program. She is a Master Trainer in Reproductive Health, Emergency Obstetrics & Neonatal Care, Post-Abortion Care, Comprehensive Abortion Care, Long Term Family Planning methods, and VSC procedures. She is currently working as a Senior Consultant at NIDAN Hospital in Nepal and is a team leader of M4 Health to improve quality is services in maternal and neonatal health.

  • María Vivas, Deputy Director, Oriéntame/ESAR Foundations, Colombia

Dr. Maria Vivas is a medical doctor trained in Bogotá, Colombia, and holds a Master's in Public Health with a focus in epidemiology from the University of California in Berkeley, California. As a bilingual doctor who specialized in public health, she has experience working in international environments in different aspects of program implementation and research projects in sexual and reproductive health, health disparities, maternal-infant health, and access to primary healthcare. Her work has always been embedded in the understanding of social determinants of health, finding creative solutions to increase access to primary health care services while maintaining high quality standards, especially within groups who are disproportionately stricken by healthcare inequalities. Currently, as the Deputy director of Oriéntame Clinics and the ESAR Foundation, Dr. Vivas is part of a team that has had an essential role increasing access to safe abortion practices in Colombia and the treatment of incomplete abortion in other restrictive contexts. She supports the executive director in the development and implementation of strategic plans and policies for both intuitions. Prior to this role, she monitored project activities proposed to decrease unwanted pregnancies in countries where ESAR/Oriéntame is present. She served as a Public Health Medical Specialist with Oriéntame designing activities that increased coverage and access to services that contributed to the comprehensive management of unwanted pregnancies. Dr. Vivas also worked at the University of California in the USA as the Director of Research Projects, a Postgraduate Researcher, and Analyst and Data Manager Supervisor of the Women's Global Health Imperative, and at the Hospital Rafael Uribe in Colombia as a Coordinator of Public Health Programs.


  • Rasha Dabash, Senior Director, Gynuity Health Projects
  • Annik Sorhaindo, Consultant, Department of Reproductive Health and Research, WHO