Low-cost fertility centre on cards

Online desk |  9 months ago | local

The GOVERNMENT is working on the construction of a modern low-cost in vitro fertilisation (IVF) centre that will be run under the public sector healthcare system to cushion infertility patients from high costs charged at private centres.

The initiative is expected to improve treatment outcomes for patients with infertility.

IVF is a complex series of procedures used to help with fertility or prevent genetic problems, and assist with the conception of a child.

The project is being established in partnership with the University of Zimbabwe and a team of private health practitioners.

In an interview with The Sunday Mail, acting deputy director of the Reproductive Health Unit in the Ministry of Health and Child Care Dr Lucia Gondongwe said the facility will significantly reduce the cost of IVF procedures.

“There is a low-cost IVF centre under construction and we have since trained specialist doctors, who will work closely with other members at the establishment.

“We have many patients who need IVF services in the country but it is quite expensive in the private sector. It costs more than US$5 000, which is beyond the reach of many,” she said.

Consultant obstetrician and fertility specialist, who is the lead doctor running the project, Dr Mugove Gerald Madziyire, said the new public sector IVF centre will be handled by a Government laboratory and this, ultimately, reduces the cost of embryology.

Embryology is related to the formation, growth and development of the embryo. It deals with the prenatal stage of development, beginning from the formation of reproductive cells.

“This will reduce the embryology cost to around US$500. Embryology costs around US$1 400 at the moment in the private sector. As the service gets more numbers, the centre will be able to refine and cut down on the cost.

“The centre will try to shorten other steps for conventional IVF to bring the overall cost of IVF down, while making sure it maintains excellent quality of care.

“If you are doing maximum dosing, you are likely to have the cost of stimulation being around US$1 200, so, now we are just saying let’s stimulate minimally so that we reduce the cost to US$500 for stimulation only,” explained Dr Madziyire, who is a Merck Foundation alumnus trained in fertility medicine in India.

Most Zimbabweans are embracing the IVF technology, and to date, since its re-introduction in 2016 by a team led by Dr Tinovimba Mhlanga, more than 197 live births have been recorded.

With almost 500 treatment cycles having been performed, this gives an overall average success rate of 39 percent, which compares favourably with the success rate in other countries.