HEAL Foundation, a healthcare advocacy group, organised ‘Reproductive Health e-Summit’ with the support of Bharat Serums & Vaccines on the occasion of World IVF Day. The purpose of the e-Summit was to seek experts’ advice on various topics on ‘Reproductive Health in India’. Ten reproductive Health & IVF experts from across India participated as speakers in the e-Summit.
The onset of the unprecedented COVID-19 crisis followed by the lockdown has posed an even greater challenge for 3 million infertile couples in India seeking treatment. Most of the couples had to postpone their plans of parenthood and those going under treatment could not follow through the complete treatment. A steep fall in the number of patients visiting IVF centres for treatment has been observed during this period.
Addressing the ‘Reproductive Health e-Summit’ Dr Jayesh Amin, Clinical Director, WINGS IVF Group, Gujarat Chapter Secretary for Indian Fertility Society, (IFS), said, “Naturally, motherhood is such an experience that every woman yearns for. And for conception, some women take the help of ‘Assisted Reproductive Technology’ (ART). However, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has affected plans of becoming a mother for those women who were planning or undergoing the IVF treatment’.”
“Most centres have resumed work observing the international and national guidelines for the fertility treatment during COVID-19. The old couples may not have the liberty of time like their younger counterparts and it is wise to start their treatment at earliest. The procedures are performed after through risk assessment in a hygienic environment & people must not delay just because of the fear of COVID-19”, observed Dr Jayesh.
Infertility is no less than an epidemic for young Indians. More and more young couples are seeking infertility treatment. In India, infertility affects around 10% to 15% of married couples. Out of 30 million infertile couples in India, nearly 3 million are actively seeking treatment. The rate is even higher in the urban population where 1 out of 6 couples suffers from infertility and desperately look for solutions.
“Out of 3 million people seeking infertility treatment in India every year, around 5 lakh seek In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF)/Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) treatment. But during the COVID-19 pandemic, they have suffered a lot. However, we are committed to spreading awareness amongst the masses regarding reproductive health ever since the outbreak of COVID-19 in India. In such a situation, the event like — Reproductive Health e-Summit is very much required for spreading awareness, and we support such an initiative”, said, Mr Sanjiv Navangul, Managing Director and CEO, Bharat Serums & Vaccines Limited.
The ongoing situation has resulted in a drop in the number of cases. Out of nearly 2000 IVF centres in India, less than 800 have opened up by the end of June.
“IVF cycle is a planned preparation over a couple of months. covid-19 crisis, lockdown measures suddenly changed our world. It led to cancellation of IVF cycle or treatment. Eventually as lockdown was eased, still there are travel restrictions, absence of public transport, extended lock down at few places, still exists that ultimately results in cancellation of treatment or discontinuation of treatment.”, said Dr Swati Dongre, Infertility Specialist Gynecologist, Santati IVF Treatment & Fertility Centre, Thane West, Mumbai
Talking about the significant reduction in patients undergoing fertility treatment in the country, Dr Sweta Gupta, Clinical Director, Fertility Solutions, Medicover Fertility, New Delhi, said, “The Pandemic has been a challenging phase for everyone including fertility treatment which was categorised as a non-essential service. With the unlocking phase, things have slowly started coming back to normal. Couples that are looking for treatment need not delay their plans anymore. Pandemic will stay with us until we either develop herd immunity or get a vaccine discovered. All procedures of IVF are practised after initial risk assessment with COVID risk mitigation steps in a highly sanitized environment and there is no need to fear about its success if you follow preventive guidelines issued by the government.”