The Medical Director of Nordica Fertility Centre, Dr Abayomi Ajayi, has advised couples seeking solution for fertility through In-vitro-fertilization (IVF) to be mindful of where they go to for treatment. Speaking during Nordica Open Day recently at Nordica Fertility Centre, Ikoyi, Lagos, Ajayi noted that it has become necessary to warn patients because many quack and sub-standard IVF centres are springing up everywhere in the country.
He spoke on this and other issues. Excerpts:
Open Day programme
We have seen from our experience that the main problem with assisted conception is still awareness. Not only awareness in the sense that people don’t know that it exists, but also awareness because we want the consumer to be intelligent, to be learned, so that you can ask questions wherever you go.
We are not saying that everybody should come to Nordica, wherever you are going, just be sure you are going to the proper place. You are asking the right type of questions, you can only do that when you have enough knowledge of how things work. Because we hear all sorts of stories of how people say they are doing assisted conception in Nigeria, which is not true.
So, unless you know how it is done everywhere in the world, we know that some people will not go to the internet to go and goggle In-vitro Fertilization (IVF) procedures, but we can show them how it is done, then, you take it from there and ask wherever you are going, what is the difference between what I saw here and what you are doing? So that you can be able to say whether anybody you are seeing is making sense. So what we are doing is to enlighten the patients and also to raise awareness.
Well, I can only talk about people who come to me, I know they are getting results. And that’s what we are saying, go to places where you can get results. And you can never get results if the proper thing is not done.
If you ask me, I think IVF is being accepted, of course, but I think it can get better. There are different groups of people when you talk of awareness. Some do not know it exists at all. Some know that it exists but they don’t believe it can be done, either because of their previous experience or whatever. And probably, another group are people who probably think they cannot afford it.
So, every group has different needs, and we need to meet those needs. If you ask whether it is being accepted, I think yes, it is being accepted actually.
Because we have a limited budget, we can only do the best that we can . And that’s one of the things we are doing, we are raising awareness. Also, we are improving not only with the patients, we are also doing a lot of things with the doctors. Improving their skills, we teach ultra-sound to the doctors because we have seen there are very few places where ultra-sound is taught in Nigeria. I think they are up to ten. They can learn ultra-sound, learn it properly. We also teach endoscopy.
As we are trying to increase awareness to the patient, we are also improving the quality of healthcare. Because we cannot claim to be an island. Though we have an island of services, where other people also know a few things that you know about and that’s the only way we think we can contribute to improving the level of healthcare in the country. That’s just the bits and pieces of what we can do.
We have a scheme for people who cannot afford IVF. We do eggs sharing for the younger ones. Through the egg-sharing scheme, if you are below 34 and everything is alright, it is possible for you to do IVF paying only N100, 000, but you share your eggs with other people. That way, we can bring it down for people who are younger.
But for other people who are not as young as that, the only thing we do is to rely on the programme that we have which has to do with a non-governmental organisation, which we call Fertility Treatment Support Foundation (FSS). They have a website.
Of course, we also think it is also proper to make IVF more accessible in the sense of going to the people rather than having them all come to Lagos. We have a branch now in Asaba.
When you talk about grassroot, I know another question that is being asked all the time is cost. That’s for government to go to the grassroot, because they probably might be able to provide the treatment either subsidized or completely free. But if you are looking for people to be able to pay, then, you need to get your target audience right. I think the first group of people that we need to appeal to are people who can read and write. Before we take it to the rest of the people.
Infertility is not peculiar to this generation alone. If you look back, there are some people you can remember, maybe our own category of grannies who didn’t have children. They might not have been many, but they were definitely there. You can remember one granny or one aunt who didn’t have children, so infertility has been with us from time past.
However, the treatment of infertility depends on your civilization. In some parts of Nigeria before, I think it happened in all parts of Nigeria, when a man is infertile, it can be arranged for the brother to be sleeping with the wife, and it is a guided secret, they swear so that was how they were solving those issues then. But now science has come, and nobody want anybody to sleep with his wife if he can afford the treatment.
So I think one of the things we are seeing is that there is more report, people are coming forward with more cases of infertility because they knows it is possible for it to be treated now.
Fertility nurses speak on IVF
Tina Igbokwe: “IVF is a solution to many infertility problem or challenges. For the fact that the success rate is not 100 per cent does not mean it does not work. It works. The percentage is between 25 and 30 per cent. And I think that’s a good one because what does nature even offer us? Nature gives us about 18-20 per cent. So if nature gives you 18-20 percent and IVF gives you 25-30 per cent that means it is a good one. And it has put smiles on the faces of so many couples, it has brought joy to many homes.
“IVF has come a long way in Nigeria. And it is getting better by the day. We are getting more results. Last year we had wonderful results, this year we will even do better.”
“IVF has provided succour for couples who have lost hope of conception. It is solution for a lot of couples that have lost hope of having children. Some go home with twins and triplets.”