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Expert raises concern over rising infertility, poor access to affordable care

By Sodiq Omolaoye, Abuja
06 April 2023   |   3:13 am
The medical director of Alliance Hospital and Services, Dr Christopher Otabor, has lamented that there is an increase in the number of persons, who go through the challenges of infertility in Nigeria, and beyond.


The medical director of Alliance Hospital and Services, Dr Christopher Otabor, has lamented that there is an increase in the number of persons, who go through the challenges of infertility in Nigeria, and beyond.

Otabor stated this in Abuja at the commissioning of a state-of-the-art In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) Centre and a 64-slice revolution maxima CT acquired by the hospital.

While blaming the menace on social issues, he said more females want more time to pursue their careers before getting married or having kids.
He added that in every woman who is 35yrs and above, the ability for her to produce reduces drastically as compared to if she were younger.

Otabor stated that this has given rise to persons seeking IVF.The medical doctor added that couples going through fertility challenges from the month of April now have a solution as the two commissioned projects, which he said cost over N500 million represents a significant milestone in the quest to reverse the tide of medical tourism from Nigeria.

He said: “If foreigners can travel down to Alliance Hospital for their kidney transplant, it is time for Nigeria to take us seriously.”
The doctor also corrected the notion that when a couple is facing infertility challenges, the woman is singled out to be the fault.

“When there’s infertility the couple needs to be evaluated, it could be from the woman, it could be from the man or it could be a combination of both. Statistically, it is said that one-third of all cases of infertility is the problem with the woman and one third is the problem with the man and the other one-third is a combination of the two of them.

“Please take note that I didn’t say the fault because we are not to give blame to anybody. It’s not a matter of blame, it’s a matter of the source of the inability to conceive. The fact that a woman is not able to conceive and the problem is with her, does not mean that she’s at fault. It may just be the way she’s wired, it may be hormonal problem and she doesn’t have anything to do with it, it’s not within her control,” Otabor said.

He further noted that the machines will definitely make life easier for his clinicians, as it will solve many of the diagnostic dilemmas
previously encountered in the process of making diagnoses and treatment of complex medical conditions, as well as be a great support for women’s empowerment.

“With advancement of contemporary Nigerian society and women empowerment in terms of career pursuit, many of our women now get into their thirties before settling down in marriage. Science has shown that reproductive efficiency reduces with female age. A good number of women getting married and desiring to be pregnant will require some form of assistance for them to achieve that desire.

“I give credit to some of the pioneers of IVF services in Nigeria and Abuja particularly. Even though we now have a good number of centres now offering IVF services, yet the demand still outweighs the supply. Alliance Hospital will play its own part in contributing to the solution of infertility through our IVF centre,” Otabor said.

He disclosed that in the past 10 years, healthcare services in Nigeria have experienced tremendous growth and sophistication, especially from the angle of private sector, with Abuja taking the lead as a preferred destination for medical treatment by patients across Nigeria and beyond.

He said “In the past three years, Alliance Hospital has done 75 kidney transplant
surgeries with 96 per cent success rate. A number of our kidney transplant patients flew in from outside Nigeria.”

In his welcome address, the Deputy Medical Director of the hospital, Dr. R. Adeyemi said the the centre envisioned a Nigeria where medical care is of highest standard and world-class.

Apart from helping to reduce medical tourism, Adeyemi noted further that with the medical advancement, infertility which has continued to plague women and men in the reproductive age has been defeated.

Meanwhile, the consequences of infertility are manifold and can include societal repercussions and personal suffering. Advances in assisted reproductive technologies, such as IVF, can offer hope to many couples where treatment is available, although barriers exist in terms of medical coverage and affordability.

The medicalisation of infertility has unwittingly led to a disregard for the emotional responses that couples experience, which include distress, loss of control, stigmatisation, and a disruption in the developmental trajectory of adulthood. One of the main challenges in assessing the distress levels in women with infertility is the accuracy of self-report measures. It is possible that women “fake good” to appear mentally healthier than they are. It is also possible that women feel a sense of hopefulness/increased optimism prior to initiating infertility treatment, which is when most assessments of distress are collected. Some early studies concluded that infertile women did not report any significant differences in symptoms of anxiety and depression than fertile women.

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