East African Regional Meeting – Sharing Knowledge and Transforming Attitudes

Last month, we heard from Kizza Blair, a fifth-year medical student from Gulu University his account of the East African Regional Meeting. “We were trained on legal aspects of reproductive health, the life of an advocate, primary health coverage, healthcare in a resource-limited setting, and dynamics of family planning and safe abortion. Lastly, we had an opportunity to have a hands-on experience with Manual Vacuum Aspiration (MVA) for surgical abortion using melons and pawpaw role-playing for female reproductive organs.”

The student-led planning committee hosted this regional meeting for students from 5 countries to come together and learn from sexual and reproductive health experts from throughout Africa. All participants were asked to complete a survey before the conference, recording their self-assessed knowledge on SRH topics and their attitudes towards abortion and patients seeking abortion. After the completion of the regional meeting, participants filled out another survey. The changes in participants’ knowledge and attitudes were astounding!

Attitudes were measured on a five-point scale (strongly agree to strongly disagree) using the value statements from IPPF’s “How to Educate about Abortion: a Guide.” We asked five questions to measure their attitudes. Responses on the post-meeting survey indicate that through education and conversation about abortion, participants moved toward a more accepting outlook on abortion on all five questions.

The East African Regional Meeting was a great success and we are so proud of the students who organized and administered this program!