50 fertility centers inadequate for Nigeria, say experts

A consultant Obstetrician/Gynaecologist at the University College Hospital, Ibadan, Dr Gbolahan Obajimi, has asked the government to create insurance policies for couples with fertility challenges as part of health packages for Nigerians.

He also advocated the establishment of In Vitro Fertilization units at government hospitals to give more couples with fertility issues opportunities for IVF treatment.

Obajimi, who said this in an interview with our correspondent on the sidelines of the seventh anniversary of the Vine Branch Fertility Center in Ibadan, on Saturday, noted that about 15 per cent of Nigerians were having fertility challenges and noted that the government ought to factor them into its health care policies.

Four couples, who won in the raffle draw at the event, were given tickets to fertility treatment worth N1.3m each. Another four couples also won tickets worth N750,000 each for IVF assessment.

The consultant said fertility problems were having negative impacts on productivity, because it usually weighs down many with the challenge.

Obajimi stated, “Also, the government can provide insurance policy; I know that accessing care is expensive, but the government can have a special insurance package for the small percentage of individuals who have this challenge.

“The problem of infertility affects between 10 and 15 per cent of the population. This kind of insurance policy is given to people with fertility challenges outside the country and it can be replicated here. More developed countries provide specific assistance for people who have fertility challenges. They give them up to four trials of IVF and they stop when they have a baby. It is not going to be an endless insurance. It is an insurance that is targeted to meet a specific need and once that need is met, it is over.

“Right now, we have 50 fertility centers in Nigeria, but when you look at the population density, this number is not enough. Even if it is one million people to one centre, you will see that we need at least 200. One center to a million people is even grossly inadequate. Studies have shown that a center should serve 1,500 persons.

The Consultant Gynaecologist, Vine Branch Fertility Centre, Dr Bukunmi Kolade, said in his address on the occasion that IVF treatment would remain costly until fertility centers were established in government hospitals across the country.

“IVF costs can’t come down until the centers are established in government hospitals,” he stated.

Kolade said his fertility clinic had recorded about 500 births, whose pregnancies were through IVF, in its seven years of existence.

He lamented the exodus of experts in the field, saying this was one of the challenges facing it like other medical fields.

Kolade also said the high cost of doing business and dependence on importation of drugs and other equipment were the reasons why the cost of IVF treatment was high in the country.

The fertility expert attributed the increasing rate of infertility among couples partly to infections, saying God was not against assisted conception in any way, because no human being had the capacity to make babies without the help of God.

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