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Fertility expert calls for regulation of IVF practice, inclusion of IVF in health insurance

By Nkechi Onyedika-Ugoeze, Abuja
04 November 2021   |   2:54 am
An obstetric gynaecologist and Managing Director of Nordica Fertility Centre, Dr. Abayomi Ajayi, has called for regulation of Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) to check quackery

Fertility in women

An obstetric gynaecologist and Managing Director of Nordica Fertility Centre, Dr. Abayomi Ajayi, has called for regulation of Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) to check quackery and ensure the standard practice of Intro-Vitro-Fertilisation and other fertility medicines in the country.

The centre also introduced 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.

Speaking at an event to mark the 9th anniversary of the Abuja branch of Nordica Fertility Centre, Ajayi observed that the regulation must be done the proper way with the involvement of practitioners and with effective policing.

He said, “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. There are a lot of things that we need to do. And that is why the practitioners came together and said, ‘let us try to make laws or rules that will govern our practice, but we have a problem because no association has the police, we can’t police’. But we all look forward to legislation. But what I will say is that practitioners should still try to refine some of the things and it should be nationwide.”

Ajayi added: “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.”

Ajayi disclosed that the fertility centre has recorded over 3,500 babies conceived through IVF.

On the high cost of IVF, the gynaecologist who called for the integration into the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), said: “People look to the wrong direction, they look at government for access. I don’t think the two work together. If we cannot treat malaria, we cannot treat communicable diseases, is it IVF that we can do free? So, probably what we should be looking at is health insurance where you contribute, and that is a very more realistic option as far as I’m concerned.”

Speaking further on the removal of fibroid through HIFU, Ajayi said: “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 tried 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.”