Hesperian Health Guides launches multilingual ‘Safe Abortion’ app

Hesperian Health Guides’ website covers a wide range of topics, but the most popular is safe abortion and family planning. “We get six million users a year, and 1.2 million of those go to safe abortion and family planning information,” said Sarah Shannon, Executive Director at Hesperian. “It’s just a few pages on the site, but it’s always the number one topic visited, from Texas to Tanzania.” 

Recognizing this user behavior on their website and noticing a scarcity of publicly available apps about safe abortion, Hesperian approached Ipas with the idea of creating an app. Ipas and Hesperian had previously collaborated on developing and testing materials, including Health Actions for Women. Since 2016, Ipas has provided support for the app through a seed grant, user testing in Nigeria and Bolivia, technical review and translation support.

Last month, the “Safe Abortion” app launched. It is designed for a broad audience: non-specialist, non-medical intermediaries (including escorts, peer educators, health volunteers, activists and accompaniers) and women who may use it for their own purposes. “Safe Abortion” is available on the both Apple Store and the Google Play store; it is currently in English, Spanish and French, with more languages to come.  

The “Safe Abortion” app is unique—there are no other free, publicly available apps that offer comprehensive safe abortion information. Through multiple partners, the app was tested in 11 countries and a diverse range of legal contexts, including small, semi-clandestine women’s collectives in Central America, youth peer promoters in Mexico, medical students in Bolivia, a group of midwives in Liberia, and women and patent medicine vendors in Nigeria.  

Some features of the app include: 

  • It operates offline and without a data plan, a design decision that was reinforced by user testing. “Often internet access is poor, or data plans are expensive or not always functional where people are,” said Shannon. 
  • It has comprehensive content, with information for different methods of safe abortion and specific recommendations dependent on gestational age.  
  • For medical abortion, it provides detailed information about dosage and what to expect for different gestational ages. 
  • The app is discreet once downloaded, appearing as “SA.” 

Hesperian welcomes feedback on the app and continues to seek partners who might use the app in their work. Please contact apps@hesperian.org for more information.  

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