Introduction to PAC Policy
A policy environment is composed of many elements, including laws and policies, the will of leaders to address problems, the mobilization of materials and financial resources at the national and local levels, the impetus for action to implement solutions, institutional structures to ensure long-term and sustainable programs, and support among key stakeholders in the public and private sectors and civil society. (Issues in Postabortion Care: Scaling-Up Services in Francophne Africa, Conference Report, 2004; SARA/AED/USAID.)
- The government’s official statement about standards for postabortion care services.
- A management tool for achieving standards.
- Be evidence-based.
- Reflect individual client demands, the community’s perceived needs and the overall healthcare situation in the country.
Policy guidelines describe:
- which services are to be officially offered;
- who may receive these services (e.g., any income restrictions);
- who will deliver the services (i.e., categories of healthcare providers);
- where these services will be delivered (i.e., at what level of the healthcare system);
- how often certain services are to be delivered (e.g., how many antenatal care visits); and
- what the minimal acceptable level of performance is for each service offered.
National and local policies can be developed or refined to:
- Provide comprehensive postabortion care that includes counseling on, and provision of, contraceptive methods and referrals to other reproductive and health services;
- Eliminate economic, age, marital status, and consent barriers to PAC, contraceptive services, including back-up methods, HIV and STI prevention and risk assessment information and/or referral;
- Provide information on the risks of unsafe abortion;
- Eliminate the fear of prosecution for providing life-saving care to women presenting with signs of incomplete abortion; and
- Facilitate change in practices through active dissemination of policies.
Policy guidelines do not contain the technical information needed to provide services; rather, they serve as a general outline for the provision of services. Periodic reviews should be done (every 2-3 years recommended) to ensure that practices are current and safe based on scientific evidence.