Although legal, access to safe abortion remains limited in India. Given positive experiences of task-shifting from other developing countries, there is a need to explore the feasibility of expanding the manual vacuum aspiration (MVA) provider base to include nurses in India.
A prospective, two-sided equivalence study was undertaken in five facilities of a non-government organisation in Bihar and Jharkhand to explore whether efficacy and safety rates associated with MVA provided by newly trained nurses were equivalent to those provided by physicians. Eight hundred and ninety-seven consenting women with gestation ages of 10 or fewer weeks were recruited.
Nurses were as skilled as physicians in assessing gestation age and completed abortion status, performing MVA and obtaining patient compliance. Overall failure and complication rates were low and equivalent between the two provider types, and both provider types were equally acceptable to women who underwent the procedure (98%).
Findings of the study make a compelling case for amending existing laws to expand the MVA provider base in order to increase access to safe abortion in India.