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Govt Must Treat Infertility as Epidemic: Experts at ‘India IVF Summit’ by IHW Council

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Leading gynaecologists and infertility specialists at the day-long ‘IndiaIVF Summit’ by Integrated Health and Wellbeing (IHW) Councilconcurred that better diagnostics, affordable prices and setting realistic expectations can shred the myth of infertility treatment being the privy to the rich. The summit was organised on the World IVF Day and supported by Bharat Serums and Vaccines Ltd. (BSVL),

Eminent IVF experts Dr Firuza Parikh, Director, Assisted Reproduction and Genetics, Jaslok Hospital and Research Centre, Mumbai,Dr Hrishikesh Pai, Medical Director, Bloom IVF, Mumbai,Dr Prakash Trivedi, President of Indian Society for Assisted Reproduction (ISAR), Dr. Jaideep Malhotra, Immediate Past President, ISAR, and Director, Rainbow IVF, Dr Neena Malhotra, Professor, ART Centre, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, All India Institute of Medical sciences, New Delhi, and Mr. Sanjiv Navangul, Managing Director and CEO, Bharat Serums and Vaccines Ltd. (BSVL)as well as policymakers and legal experts attended the summit.

“There are about 300 million reproductive couples in India and about 10 per cent of them have problem that requires IVF. Doctors need to assess the case to understand what the patient needs and communicate it effectively to the patient. Besides, infertility treatment should be covered by the government like the NHS does in the UK. There are schemes in Madhya Pradesh for people below poverty line – schemes like Ayushman Bharat should provide infertility treatment,” says Dr Hrishikesh Pai, Medical Director, Bloom IVF, Mumbai.

“IVF is not very egalitarian in its approach – adopting a ‘Make in India’ approach by coming together of engineers, IVF specialists, and academicians can result in a lot of cost saving. Besides, we need to integrate IVF in the family planning programmes; it is high time we recognise infertility as a disease and bring it under insurance cover. As of surrogacy, we need to recognise it is a form of IVF treatment that serves the basic human right of procreation – there are couples who have TB, who are diabetic or hypertensive and there are same-sex couples. As individuals, we cannot afford to be judgemental, governments cannot afford to be judgemental. We need to build support systems,” says Dr FiruzaParikh, Director, Assisted Reproduction and Genetics, Jaslok Hospital and Research Centre, Mumbai. Dr Praikh developed cumulus-aided embryo transfer (CAT) technique in 2005 that increased the success rate of IVF by 15 per cent.

Announcing a commitment of Rs 10 lakhs on behalf of Bharat Serums & Vaccines towards a fund that can influence health impact in infertility,Mr. Sanjiv Navangul, Managing Director and CEO, Bharat Serums and Vaccines Ltd. (BSVL), “With my experience of working with TB and diabetes, I can say finding the social cost of infertility is important – it is at the root of many divorces, suicides, abuses, mental health problems. Bharat Serums & Vaccines will lead a multi-stakeholder study to quantify the economic cost of infertility. The key objective of this study will be to gather necessary data and insights to create a framework to fight against this epidemic of infertility in partnership with all stakeholders. The study will also have qualitative assessment of the impact of infertility in society viz depression, suicide, abuse against women and an overall social stigma. We will present the findings to the government so that they can note the ground realities and formulate right policies in this direction.”

Infertility affects almost 27.5 million couples in India and the country is fast becoming a trusted destination for couples from abroad to get treated for fertility issues. However, the COVID-19-induced pandemic has halted infertility treatment globally as well as in India, and may have dashed the last hope to have a baby for many couples.

Mr. Kamal Narayan, CEO, IHW Councilsays, “Infertility is a vicious cycle that causes tremendous stress of trying or waiting to conceive which in turn, contributes as the cause of fertility issues in both men and women. However, over the years, it has been projected as a service only rich can afford. It is time we shun the reservations and biases around IVF and ARTs to allow more couples enjoy the benefits of this medical marvel – all the stakeholders should focus on creating enabling conditions through technology, access to treatment and insurance cover to allow people irrespective of their financial condition become parents.”

IHW Council, a premier think tank that advocates for a healthy world through multilateral stakeholder engagement, has been at the forefront of advocating health for all, and has been ensuring that authentic and relevant health support and guidance continue to reach to people during the ongoing pandemic.

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