An initiative led by McMaster University professors has received a $100,000 grant to develop training for midwives in Pakistan.

Eileen Hutton, assistant dean of midwifery, and Karyn Kaufman, professor emeritus, are working with the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada and midwifery organizations in Pakistan to develop an interactive e-book and training module with high-quality, current information on family planning, safe abortion and post-abortion care.

The project is one of 44 recently announced by Grand Challenges Canada that address sexual and reproductive health and rights, with the intent of putting Canada's feminist international assistance policy into action.

"In Pakistan, half of the women having an abortion procedure with a midwife experience complications due to gaps in knowledge," says Hutton, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at McMaster.

"And while most midwives appear to have positive attitudes about women's right to choose abortion, they worry about the stigma of providing post-abortion care. As a result, following abortion, 50 per cent of women have no ongoing family planning method."

Hutton's initiative targets midwives who perform abortions in Pakistan, yet have minimal training. The e-book uses audio and enhanced graphics in local language and reflecting cultural norms. Materials are distributed and downloadable on mobile phones, tablets and computers, without constant need for internet connectivity.

"In the three- to five-year time period, this intervention may have a significant impact on the approach to providing family planning, potentially decreasing the number of abortions, while increasing the quality and safety of abortion procedures and decreasing complications associated with abortion in Pakistan," she says.

"If this resource is found to be effective, our e-book can be readily adapted at minimal cost in additional languages and within more cultural norms for use in other low- or middle-income countries."

Read Hutton's Brighter World profile here.

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