Abortion is a topic which is discussed in hushed tones despite abortion being legal in our country for over five decades. Majority of people are unaware of the legality, complications, magnitude of unsafe abortion.
This ignorance is present across socio-economic, educational and geographic backgrounds. There is a great need to spread awareness about women’s needs, and their reproductive rights. The stigma attached to the subject must be done away with.
There is a need for platforms wherein people from different backgrounds can gather and discuss abortion stigma and share their experiences and challenges faced in providing comprehensive abortion care services (CAC) and in accessing these services and how they overcome these barriers.
CAC Conclave 2017 provided a platform to health workers at different levels to discuss the challenges they face in provision of services. Speakers discussed varied issues at the conclave like best practices, challenges, solutions to overcome the field barriers. We learnt that a health worker faces different problems in service provision namely social, political, cultural, geographical, climatic, religious, etc. However, they overcome these problems with their skills, patience, hard work and will power. The discussions provided health workers a moral boost who face challenges in providing CAC services. It gave us new ideas and filled us with a sense of enthusiasm. The discussions provided each one of us with a positive outlook and attitude.
During the two-day event the best practices of health workers was recognized, and their efforts were praised. The participants from varied fields like law, administration, media, NGOs, etc., were surprised to know about the challenges posed by a seemingly simple need like an abortion. They listened with keen interest and with each passing hour their participation became greater. They took notes during the session and asked questions. This showed their concern about the issue.
The discussions were held in an atmosphere that allowed sharing of thoughts and experiences. At first, the discussions raised a few eyebrows, then as it created a certain amount of awareness, it evoked emotions, set the participants thinking. At the end all agreed that abortion is not something which should be treated like a shameful subject, but as a major health concern and need. The awareness will mobilise people of the society into participating in health programmes, and sharing the responsibilities, seen earlier as the sole responsibility of women.
The CAC Conclave created a sort of cooperative movement, the kind we see in partnerships, which have a common goal and a shared path of desire and great passion.
We all came to a consensus that safe abortion services are an important need of women and should be provided as a right, need and as a tool for women empowerment. We understood that it is a pertinent health issue, which is an important aspect of women’s health and therefore, a major segment of national health policies and health goals.
Everybody agreed that reproductive health is not the sole responsibility of women and that the entire community has a role to play in it. A conclave of this magnitude, with such important people coming together will help in expanding the importance of CAC knowledge in different fields of society. It will be instrumental in improving CAC knowledge and services across India.
I strongly believe common goal and a common destiny can be mastered if we all face it together. Personally, for me it was an enriching experience from which I benefitted professionally and personally. I got a chance to update my knowledge on the latest developments in abortion techniques, clarified my doubts with my senior colleagues, improved my ability to deal with problems by listening to how others tackled them. CAC Conclave provided me an opportunity to speak in front of an esteemed audience, which provided me an adrenaline boost, and something which is deeply etched in my mind. I was praised for my own efforts, this was a great morale boost. I realised the noble intention behind such an august gathering is ultimately to work towards saving lives of women in India.
CAC Conclave provided a platform wherein participants could have good discussions in a great ambience, along with delicious food, music and group activities. I particularly, loved meeting my old friends from various parts of India, who share my common passion towards CAC. Our common passion and goal is what bonds us all together.
Under the aegis of IDF, the conclave was a great success as it successfully mobilised people to work towards a common goal of improving CAC services. I look forward to being part of the next conclave.
Dr. Noor Fathima
Dr. Noor Fathima is a medical officer at a referral hospital in Barbigha, Sheikhpura district, Bihar. She is an IDF trained master trainer and clinical mentor. Her motto in life is to have a positive outlook and help others develop the same.