Focus on Abortion: Special Report

Expanding Access to Comprehensive Abortion Care in Humanitarian Contexts: Case Study from the Rohingya Refugee Camps in Bangladesh

Sharmin Sultana, Ipas Bangladesh Shadie Tofigh, Ipas Rezwana Chowdhury, Ipas Bangladesh Sayed Rubayet, Ipas Bangladesh Ghazaleh Samandari, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Alison Edelman, Oregon Health and Science University

First published online:

| DOI: https://doi.org/10.1363/46e0820
Abstract / Summary

The need for comprehensive sexual and reproductive health (SRH) care can be especially acute during humanitarian crises, as women and girls are at increased vulnerability of experiencing sexual violence, unintended pregnancy and pregnancy-related complications. However, in such settings, the chaos of displacement and basic survival may supplant the importance of SRH care, and individuals may also have diminished access to safe services. Abortion and abortion-related care may be particularly limited in humanitarian contexts because of a number of barriers beyond the lack of infrastructure, supplies and trained staff: For example, abortion care practitioners in emergency settings may perceive or face legal complications or loss of funding due to their provision of abortion services, insititutions and governments may lack timely data on and underestimate the true volume of abortion demand among refugees, and providers may hold a perception that providing abortion care in crisis settings may be too difficult to attempt.

Author's Affiliations

Sharmin Sultana is senior health systems advisor, Rezwana Chowdhury is research and evaluation advisor, and Sayed Rubayet is country director—all with Ipas Bangladesh, Dhaka. Shadie Tofigh is senior technical advisor, Ipas. Ghazaleh Samandari is adjunct professor, Public Health Leadership Program, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, NC, USA. Alison Edelman is professor, Oregon Health and Science University, Portland, OR, USA.


The views expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect those of the Guttmacher Institute.