The health ministry on Friday approved for the first time the sale of an oral abortion pill, giving women in early pregnancy an alternative to the surgical procedure.

The Mefeego pill pack developed by British pharmaceutical company Linepharma International can terminate a pregnancy of up to nine weeks of gestation, and is considered safer than surgical abortions.

Mefeego is a two-drug combination of mifepristone, which blocks a pregnancy hormone, and misoprostol, taken 36 to 48 hours later to stimulate uterine contractions.