Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Fertility Treatment for Poor

The European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology met in Barcelona this week.

On the discussion table was the issue of infertility in developing countries. A proposal was put together with the aim of introducing inexpensive IVF treatments for women - beginning in Africa where it is claimed more than 30percent of women are infertile.

This IVF treatment could cost around $200.00 which is considerably less than the $10,000.00 being paid for the same treatment in developed nations.

From the Guardian:
"A small number of women already have been treated in Khartoum, Sudan, and other projects are expected to start soon in South Africa and Tanzania. Sembuya Rita, an infertility activist from Uganda, said it was essential for public health officials to address the issue."

From Fox News:
"Despite dozens of other health priorities — from AIDS to pneumonia to malaria — experts said it was worthwhile to introduce a cheap version of IVF. In Africa, where infertility is more common than in the West, women often suffer the problem after complications from unsafe deliveries, abortions or infections.

Experts said that even if millions of women were treated with low-cost IVF, it would only result in a one to two percent boost in the overall population. But with limited funds for public health, officials admitted it would be a tough sell."

"Oluwole Akande, an emeritus professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Ibadan, Nigeria acknowledged the price of the procedure would still be available only to Africa's upper and middle classes. He said that in many parts of Africa women who are unable to have children become social outcasts, are labelled as witches, and in extreme cases, are even driven to suicide."

From the Star Tribune:
"Millions of dollars go into family planning projects and condom distribution to prevent pregnancies in Africa, but experts said that more than 30 percent of women on the continent are unable to have children. An estimated 80 million people in developing countries are infertile worldwide."

From Yahoo News:
"The goal is creating a system of centers developed around existing hospitals and clinics that would provide more options for infertile women in poor countries. The key to an affordable program is not attempting to treat every type of infertility but rather targeting those that have the best chance of success, such as women with tubal damage as a result of infection, the researchers said. They also acknowledged that until governments and international aid organizations step in with funding, even a $200 per cycle price tag will prove prohibitive for many."

However, due to the inexpensive nature of the treatment, the success rate may also be lower.

And I am sure that there are many who would disagree with this program on the basis of the world already being over-populated. Many would also argue why this program could not be used in developed countries for childless couples who cannot afford the huge price-tag that comes with IVF treatments.

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