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Uganda: Mulago to Start Low Cost Infertility Treatment

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Kampala — Mulago National Referral Hospital will be the first public health facility to provide assisted reproductive technologies to enable infertile women bear children.

Dr Robert Busingye, a senior consultant in obstetrics and gynaecology at Mulago hospital, said before the end of the year, they will start assisting infertile women produce children at a friendly cost using Vitro Fertilisation (IVF).

"In the new structure which they have built which is nearing completion, we have put an IVF facility and about 15 of us (doctors and nurses) went to India for training in IVF. As soon as the building is opened, we should be able to start," Dr Busingye revealed.

He was speaking at the official launch of the Uganda Fertility Society last Friday.

The IVF is a process that increases the efficiency of human reproduction, which is often not very efficient naturally.

Current cost

Currently, it costs about Shs14m in Uganda per cycle to have a child using the Assisted Reproductive Technologies at about five private clinics in Kampala.

However, Dr Busingye who doubles as the president of the newly launched Uganda Fertility Society, said: "There are some technologies from the World Health Organisation which will help bring down the costs of offering IVF."

He also called upon the government to waive taxes on medicines used in assisted reproduction in order to make services affordable in the private sector.

In Uganda, about 10-15 per cent of couples cannot have children due to infertility. Dr Busingye said about 75 per cent of these cases are due to sexually transmitted infections which leads to blockage of the fallopian tube in women and sperm duct among men.

The failure to procreate has also been blamed on men who rarely seek sexuality and fertility services.

In an interview, Mr Enoch Kusasira, the hospital's spokesperson, confirmed that the reproductive services will be offered at the 320-bed capacity Women's Hospital whose completion is slated for May this year.

"The services are under the new specialised hospital for women being funded with a loan from Islamic Development Bank at $33.3m," Mr Kusasira revealed, adding that all the civil works on the structure have been completed.

The Specialised Women's Hospital will also offer gynae-onvcology for cervical cancer and other cancers of female nature. Other services that will be offered include: urogynaecology, specialised and general gynaecology.

Minister of State for Health in charge of General Duties Sarah Opendi, who presided over the official launch of the Uganda Fertility Society, said a law is being drafted to regulate the activities of clinics which offer the services.

"I am happy that we have broken the silence and now we are speaking about issues of infertility. We want to ensure young boys and girls know more about these issues of infertility so that they can be able to prevent the challenge," Ms Opendi said.

She said the Society will go a long way in advocating availability of these fertility services at an affordable cost.

"We already have a draft regulation on the IVF services that has been sent to the Solicitor General [for further guidance] and we are hoping for feedback," Ms Opendi said.

About IVF

In Vitro Fertilisation is an assisted reproductive technology (ART) commonly referred to as IVF. IVF is the process of fertilisation by extracting eggs, retrieving a sperm sample, and then manually combining an egg and sperm in a laboratory dish. The embryo(s) is then transferred to the uterus. Other forms of ART include gamete intrafallopian transfer (GIFT) and zygote intrafallopian transfer (ZIFT).

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