Newsletter: Continuing to provide abortion care during COVID-19

The photo above shows an information session on medical abortion being delivered by new SAAF grantee partner ONIDS in Burkina Faso. They, like all of us across the globe, are having to change the way they live and work during the COVID-19 pandemic. This update is focused on the ways SAAF partners are adapting to ensure their communities are safe and supported, and crucially, still have access to essential reproductive health care information and services.

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How we are adapting our work during the pandemic

Staff from SAAF partner CEIFED in the DRC meet to discuss project activities, wearing masks
SAAF grantee partner CEIFED holds a meeting in South Kivu, DRC

Back in March, when the widespread global impact of the Coronavirus was apparent, we sent a survey to all SAAF grantees to determine their needs. The majority reported a restriction on movement in their country and told us they would need to change all or some of their project activities. Since then we have been working closely with partners to ensure our funding is flexible and can meet immediate and newly arising needs caused by the pandemic. So far we have approved just under $70,000 for personal protective equipment and other essentials to eight organisations and continue to communicate with grantees to determine changing contexts and meet their needs.

Grantee partners are sharing strategies on SAAF’s online community platform and we hosted a webinar, as part of a new series, on how to safely provide services during the pandemic with Dr Rodica Comendant from Regional Training Centre in Moldova giving clear guidance on remote medical abortion care.

SAAF welcomes another 7 new grantee partners

We’re pleased to announce that seven new SAAF funded projects have started in April and May – we welcome GTBC in Tunisia, WGNRR in the Philippines, IPG in Brazil, RHAC in Cambodia, WHRRO in Sierra Leone, SAMA in India and SDOFW in Afghanistan – click on the links to find out more about each of these projects. WHRRO is also profiled below in our regular ‘Grantee Partner Spotlight’.

A gathering of SAAF’s Latin American partners

A group of abortion rights activists hold up green scarves

In March, before the global pandemic halted travel, we convened a meeting of all 18 of SAAF’s Latin American grantee partners in Colombia. The participants determined the focus of the meeting and led all sessions, with the gathering enabling coordinated actions on abortion advocacy and provision in the region moving forward.“We are already planning joint activities with other organizations we met here”“Thank you for the work you do. I wish all the funds were like this 😊”“This meeting was one of the most productive I have attended in recent years”

SAAF grantee partner spotlight 

A woman speaks to a circle of people outside
A community meeting on unsafe abortion led by WHRRO staff in Makomp Doron

Founded in 2013 by a group of women activists, Women’s Health and Reproductive Rights Organization (WHRRO) works to ensure access to sexual and reproductive health and rights, especially for women in hard-to-reach communities. We’re pleased to welcome WHRRO into the SAAF community, as they begin their project sharing information about safe abortion with rural communities in Sierra Leone this month.

During the global pandemic WHRRO are taking precautions to ensure their staff are safe and responding as need arises – they told us:

“As we witnessed through the work of our brave staff responding to the Ebola outbreak, we know that women’s collective action is a crucial and often overlooked frontline of response to health emergencies at community level. We stand as always in solidarity with these efforts, and encourage us to retain this spirit of collective solidarity particularly as COVID-19 may require many of us to self-isolate and practice social distancing.”

News and updates

The inspirational work of SAAF grantee partner Socorristas En Red was featured in Time magazine – you can read the article about their work supporting safe abortion access in Argentina during the current pandemic here.

Since being selected for the Aspen Institute’s ‘New Voices Fellowship’, Edinah Masiyiwa, Director of Women’s Action Group, has been publishing a number of powerful articles on the need for safe abortion in Zimbabwe. You can read her latest, Women Still Need Contraceptives During Lockdown here.

Dianah from Women Promotion Centre Kenya has written about the work they are doing to ensure women and girls living in the Kibera Slum still have access to contraception and safe abortion. You can read it on the SAAF section of the Girls Globe site here.

SAAF grantee partners are advocating for barriers to safe abortion access to be lifted during COVID-19 lockdown – including Tamtang in Thailand who recently presented a petition to the Department of Health. Read more here.

SAAF is hosted by IPPF. If you wish to report anything which concerns you about our work, or the work of our grantee partners (such as abuse, fraud, malpractice) please consider using the confidential external incident reporting service IPPF SafeReport.