Health worker roles in providing safe abortion care and post-abortion contraception


Although simple, safe and effective interventions exist, 21.6 million unsafe abortions occur globally every year. Unsafe abortion continues to constitute a major mortality and morbidity burden especially in the developing world. Numerous barriers limit access to safe abortion – one of the most critical is the lack of trained providers.

Guideline Objective

The purpose of this guideline is to provide a range of options for expanding of health worker roles in the provision of safe abortion care, the management of complications of abortion (also known as post-abortion care in some settings and provided as part of emergency obstetric care) and for post-abortion contraception provision.

Key messages

Planned and regulated task shifting and task sharing can ensure a rational optimization of the available health workforce, address health system shortages of specialized health-care professionals and improve equity in access to health care.

Most evidence-based interventions for safe abortion and post-abortion care in early pregnancy can be provided on an outpatient basis at the primary care level and by a wide range of non-specialist providers.

How to interpret this guideline?

Interpretation of the guideline recommendations
Recommended. The benefits of implementing this option outweigh the possible harms. This option can be implemented, including at scale.
Recommended in specific circumstances. The benefits of implementing this option outweigh the possible harms in specific circumstances. The specific circumstances are outlined for each recommendation. This option can be implemented under these specific circumstances.
Recommended in the context of rigorous research. There are important uncertainties about this option (related to benefits, harms, acceptability and feasibility) and appropriate, well designed and rigorous research is needed to address these uncertainties.
Recommended against. This option should not be implemented.

How to use the interactive table

Reorganise table by interventions or recommendations.
Explanation of health workers found when clicking on ‘Description’.
Hover over symbol for recommendation.
Click on task for explanation.
View further recommendation information by clicking on symbol.

Other Relevant Resources

Safe abortion: technical and policy guidance for health systems (Second edition)

To view each of the recommendations separately - click here


Safe abortion: Technical & policy guidance for health systems

Legal and policy considerations – Key messages