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Pathfinder app helps improve post-abortion care in Tanzania

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Non-governmental healthcare development firm Pathfinder International has launched a mobile app that helps improve post-abortion care in African countries.

Launched in Tanzania in March last year and since expanded to Mozambique, the app has a 23-point checklist for doctors to use to help improve post-abortion care.

Approximately 6.9 million women are treated for complications from unsafe abortions each year in developing countries, while in Tanzania, though the penal code makes an exception for abortion to save a woman's life and preserve health, there is widespread belief that abortion is completely criminalised and no guidance on who may actually perform an abortion.

To tackle this issue, Pathfinder has partnered local government and mentorship teams in Mozambique and Tanzania to provide mentorship to health facility staff on post-abortion care, family planning counselling, the provision of contraceptive methods, and data and stock management.

"Mentorship teams in Tanzania make quarterly visits to supported health facilities to provide ongoing mentorship support to providers of contraception and comprehensive post-abortion care. Mentorship teams observe trained providers as they provide these services," said Justin Maly, technical advisor for digital health at Pathfinder.

Alongside this, the organisation has also rolled out a mobile application, which provides a series of checklists that outline the step-by-step process for the clinical procedure and provider-client interaction.

Mentors select the appropriate checklist for the type of services being provided, and the app provides the mentor with a list of the key tasks to be done.

"We are committed to improving the quality of care for women seeking contraception and post-abortion care, and we saw gaps in provider skill and comfort level in some of the facilities we work that could increase quality of care," Maly said.

"We wanted to provide an easy to use tool that would help mentorship teams observe quality of service provision, as well as identify areas for improvement for facility providers to ensure steady improvement in service delivery in supported health facilities."

In Tanzania, Pathfinder currently has 64 mentors, with usage of the app being implemented in 49 facilities. Maly said clinical mentoring is a critical component of a comprehensive approach to training, as it provides a bridge between didactic training and independent clinical practice.

"This is the first time in Tanzania that post-abortion care providers are being mentored using digital tools, and women are receiving better care as a result," he said. "We are already seeing increased ability of mentorship teams to observe service provision, provide on the job training in areas needing improvement, and review data related to quality of service provision."

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