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"They know everything": community health workers' attitudes to and influence on abortion access in India

Nandagiri, Rishita ORCID: 0000-0003-4424-769X (2018) "They know everything": community health workers' attitudes to and influence on abortion access in India. In: British Society for Population Studies annual conference, 2018-09-10 - 2018-09-12.

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Safe abortion access is impeded by multiple barriers, including legal status of abortion, availability of trained providers, and degree of abortion knowledge. Even where abortion is legally available, it may remain inaccessible due to lack of accurate abortion information and knowledge, lack of trained providers, especially in rural areas, and limiting provision of services to physicians or specialists. The paucity of trained/available providers may lead to delays in access to care or abortions taking place under unsafe conditions. Task‐sharing/task‐shifting enables lay and mid‐level healthcare professionals such as nurses, midwives, pharmacists, and community health workers (CHWs) in healthcare service provision. In India, female CHWs and pharmacists act as the key interface between public health systems and rural communities. Equipped with pregnancy testing kits, they are present for women’s first acknowledgement or confirmation of pregnancy. As trusted confidants and sources of information, women turn to CHWs for advice and support in their abortion decision‐making. Yet, their attitudes to abortion, and current and potential roles in abortion access remain underexplored. A nested mixed‐methods (questionnaires=112, in‐depth interviews=21) study design was utilised to collect data over eight months in rural villages in two districts in Karnataka, India. Preliminary findings suggest that CHWs display some stigmatising attitudes and lack knowledge of current laws; and influence abortion trajectories by providing advice or withholding information. Their roles and attitudes are shaped by and function within social, political, and cultural contexts. Task‐sharing efforts must account for social, political, and cultural relations that inform CHWs negotiations, subversions, & service provision.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Poster)
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2018 The Author
Divisions: Social Policy
Subjects: R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
Sets: Departments > Social Policy
Date Deposited: 17 Sep 2018 14:35
Last Modified: 11 May 2021 23:32

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