In vitro fertilization is said to be the most common and effective type of assisted reproductive technology that helps women become pregnant. Can you estimate the number of babies conceived in your centre through IVF?
At the last count, we had over 3,500 babies but I don’t count babies anymore. What I do is to see that; we maintain set standards. Secondly, we look out for new ideas to be introduced. So I don’t wake up thinking about how many babies we have anymore because every day, somebody gets pregnant.
The question of how and when to regulate the industry has undeniably become mired in politics and privilege, with surprising twists. Do u agree that the market is the wrong model for the fertility industry?
Talking about regulation, IVF is not the only medical section in Nigeria. So I don’t understand why people are particular about IVF. There are some cases within MBS, like for five years of malpractice, and the doctors are still practicing. What I’m saying is that if we want to start looking at IVF alone we might be missing the point.
You cannot regulate without the practitioners coming together to tell you what even obtains. It is a long process because we have been trying also to do it. What I am saying is that if we want to start looking at just IVF, we might be missing the point
Every good practitioner wants regulation to come in. But I also tell people, be careful what you pray for because there was an attempt a few years ago to bring some regulations from East Africa, to just copy and paste in Nigeria, because we sometimes don’t do our homework thoroughly. While we want regulation to take place, everybody who is involved with it is interested in the regulation. Lagos state now has something like regulation for IVF. I think it is a good starting point for us to look at how we, Nigeria, can at least agree that we should regulate it. But you cannot do regulation without policing, it doesn’t make any sense.
Childless couples are being exploited in fertility clinics. What’s the cost implication of IVF in your centre?
You see, if you want to do IVF properly, then what goes into it is expensive up to the water that we use in the laboratory with import. So if you want you must get the quality right. We live in a country where you don’t manufacture anything. You live in a country where one run ten generators. In fact ,you know what, I tell people that it was more profitable five years ago than what it is now. If you want to do it properly, I’m sorry , the cost cannot go down if you don’t manufacture anything. So, nobody says a kidney transplant is not going down. Why are we not looking at the whole thing holistically? What about kidney transplant? What about even if you want to have an ordinary childbirth now in a good hospital? Because you have to mark it up with the dollar so we are all victims. I’m sorry because our currencies first lost value and we are not manufacturing.
Again, more than 60 per cent of people offering IVF service in the country do not have the facilities but due to the perceived financial benefits and patronage, doctors and health workers who know little or nothing about IVF have continued to take advantage of couples in need by offering services.
Can you reel out the benefits of HIFU technology?
High-Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU), which is a non-invasive way of treating uterine fibroids that eliminates the need for surgery and with short recovery time. Before we talk about the benefit, its important to state here that the regulation must be done the proper way with the involvement of practitioners and with effective policing
This procedure is very well suited for people who want to have children. But what we try to tell people that HIFU is not for infertility, some people will say I have fibroids, when the sperm count is low. It is for fibroids. Now, there is some explanation for and that is why I said we must get the right patient.”
Now, if you have the kind of fibroid that is in the endometrium, and occupies all the unlimited, we might not want to do it. What we trY to do is that that was always to ensure that there is about 15 millimetre space between the fibroid and the endometrium, so that we do not destroy the endometrium while destroying the fibroid as well. So, patient selection, and then preparation is the most important thing for HIFU, once you get all that right. It is like a piece of cake.