Novel methods of abortion could benefit women worldwide, however abortion largely remains an untapped field of innovation. Currently there are two main methods of abortion, manual vacuum aspiration and medical abortion. The introduction of medical abortion (mifepristone and misoprostol) revolutionized abortion care, providing women greater autonomy and ease of abortion administration; yet, it still has limitations. For example, mifepristone is inaccessible in most countries, and where it is accessible it is expensive. Additionally, there has been limited research and development in this field to date, especially when compared to other areas of sexual and reproductive health such as contraception.
Limited choice in terms of abortion method contributes to the staggering number of deaths and disabilities seen annually as a result of unsafe abortion. More than 25 million unsafe abortion occur annually, 97% of which occur in low- and middle-income countries. Innovation is critical to drive progress in developing next generation methods of abortion, increasing choice, and putting women and girls in control of where, when and how they terminate their pregnancy.
To stimulate the field of abortion innovation, the Options for Pregnancy Termination Innovation (OPTions) Initiative, is awarding CAD 250,000 grants for bold, innovative, transformational and ‘outside-the-box’ ideas which save and improve the lives of women and girls through expanded and improved choices for methods of pregnancy termination.
This month, the OPTions Initiative, in partnership with BLEE Hackathons, is launching the OPTions Hackathon – a free three day virtual event (June 15-17) for individuals or groups to ideate and develop ideas for next generation methods of pregnancy termination, including those that incorporate concepts, methods and technologies not currently being used for pregnancy termination. A next generation method of abortion has the potential to provide improvements including efficacy, timeframe for administration, accessibility within regulatory frameworks, ease of compliance, reduced side effects, and ability to be self-administered.
Ideas at all stages are welcome – including very early stage – and innovators from all fields are encouraged to participate. Participants without ideas, but interest to develop and take forward an idea, can also participate. Hackathon participants will receive support and mentorship to develop and fine-tune their idea, enhancing their chances of receiving grant funding to test their idea for 18 – 24 months.
OPTions has supported a range of innovators working on novel methods of abortion from RoshniAgriBiotech which is investigating medicinal plants with abortifacient activity from Ayurvedic medicine to Gynuity Health Projects which is focused on the development of new abortion medications by using existing medications in new ways. Through the OPTions Hackathon, OPTions plans to further support innovators in disrupting conventional abortion methods, and ultimately improving options for abortion around the world.
Learn more and sign up here: optionsinitiative.org/hackathon/
Please note that blog posts are not peer-reviewed and do not necessarily reflect the views of SRHM as an organisation.