Designed to Improve Women's Health Choices
The story of RemovAid's creation began with Dr. Marte Bratlie, a Norwegian physician who found herself unsatisfied with the removal of contraceptive implants while working at Norway's largest youth center for sexual and reproductive health.
Dr. Bratlie found the implant insertion procedure easy and rewarding, but she struggled with the removal process, which was manual and time-consuming. When she spoke to her more experienced colleagues looking for advice, she was surprised to find that they shared her feelings.
One year after Dr. Bratlie joined the clinic, an implant insertion device was released by the implant manufacturer, making insertion even simpler. But no corresponding tool came to make removals easier, leaving the procedure manual and essentially unchanged.
As luck would have it, Dr. Bratlie happened upon an article detailing how the Norwegian Prime Minister at the time was directly involved in the Implant Access Program (IAP), a collection of public and private organizations collaborating to make contraceptive implants available to women in some of the world's most resource-poor countries. She was motivated to meet with program decision makers to discuss this important initiative that could positively impact millions of women.
During their meeting, Dr. Bratlie explored how the IAP planned to address the removal of contraceptive implants, given the volume of implants to be inserted and the difficulty of the current manual procedure. She was told that removals would be solved "through task-sharing." In other words, the IAP was planning to rely on teaching lesser qualified healthcare workers to remove implants using the current manual method.
Dr. Bratlie knew the removal procedure, as it was, would be difficult to delegate to these workers. With no clear solution in sight and a looming unmet need for women, Dr. Bratlie set out to develop a device for implant removal – and filed a first drawing with a patent attorney just as the IAP was established.
With funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Research Council of Norway in 2013, Dr. Bratlie and a small team began researching and developing the RemovAid™. Once the design was established, plans began for a clinical investigation in Uganda, where the device was put into the hands of skilled nurses and midwives in Kampala.
The clinical investigation, a collaboration between Karolinska Institutet, FHI360, Makerere University in Kampala, and RemovAid, was completed in 2020. The device performed well and was highly praised by the healthcare providers that used it.
Thanks to Dr. Bratlie's foresight and the dedication of her team, the RemovAid™ is now on the market in Norway, providing a much-needed solution for healthcare providers and women alike.