Opportunities, challenges and systems requirements for developing post-abortion family planning services: Perceptions of service stakeholders in China

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Post-abortion family planning (PAFP) has been proposed as a key strategy to decrease unintended pregnancy and repeat induced abortions. However, the accessibility and quality of PAFP services remain a challenge in many countries including China where more than 10 million unintended pregnancies occur each year. Most of these unwanted pregnancies end in repeated induced abortions. This paper aims to explore service providers’ perceptions of the current situation regarding family planning and abortion service needs, provision, utilization, and the feasibility and acceptability of high quality PAFP in the future. Qualitative methods, including in-depth interviews and focus group discussions, were used with family planning policy makers, health managers, and service providers. Three provinces—Zhejiang, Hubei and Yunnan—were purposively selected, representing high, medium and relatively undeveloped areas of China. A total of fifty-three in-depth interviews and ten focus-group discussions were conducted and analysed thematically. Increased numbers of abortions among young, unmarried women were perceived as a major reason for high numbers of abortions. Participants attributed this to increasing socio-cultural acceptability of premarital sex, and simultaneously, lack of understanding or awareness of contraception among young people. The majority of service stakeholders acknowledged that free family planning services were neither targeted at, nor accessible to unmarried people. The extent of PAFP provision is variable and limited. However, service providers expressed willingness and enthusiasm towards providing PAFP services in the future. Three main considerations were expressed regarding the feasibility of developing and implementing PAFP services: policy support, human resources, and financial resources. The study indicated that key service stakeholders show demand for and perceive considerable opportunities to develop PAFP in China. However, changes are needed to enable the systematic development of high quality PAFP, including actively targeting young and unmarried people in service provision, obtaining policy support and increasing the investment of human and financial resources.

Authors & affiliation: 
Hong Jiang 1 ☯ ≥ , Jieshuang Xu 1,2 ☯ ≥ , Esther Richards 3 , Xu Qian 1 * , Weihong Zhang 4 , Lina Hu 5 , Shangchun Wu 6 , Rachel Tolhurst 3 , INPAC Consortium ∂ 1 School of Public Health, Key Laboratory of Public Health Safety (Ministry of Educatio n), Fudan University , Shanghai, China, 2 Shanghai Center for Women and Children's Health, Shanghai, China, 3 Department of Interna tional Public Health, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, Liverpool, United Kingdom , 4 International Centre for Reproducti ve Health, University of Gent; School of Public Health, Universite ¬ Libre de Bruxelles (ULB), Gent, Bruxelles, Belgium , 5 Huaxi Secondary Hospit al, Sichuan University , Chengdu, China, 6 Clinical Research Departmen t, National Research Institute for Family Planning, Beijing, China
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Published In: 
PLOS ONE | https://doi.or g/10.137 1/journal.po ne.01865 55 October 18, 2017
Publication date: 
Wednesday, October 18, 2017