Women with infertility problems in East Africa will soon benefit from the first ever public hospital to offer in vitro fertilization (IVF) services in the region, reports Angela Oketch for the Nation.

The fertility centre which is currently under construction in Kampala, Uganda, after a deal with Merck Foundation is expected to be opened to the public in March 2018.

The centre will improve access to safe and regulated fertility care in Sub-Saharan countries including Tanzania, Kenya, Rwanda, Zambia, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Gambia, Ghana, Ethiopia and Cote d’Ivoire.

During their visit to the new Women Maternal Hospital, Merck Foundation through the ‘Merck More than a Mother,’ campaign committed to support the training of embryologists and fertility specialists and the establishment of the first public IVF centre in the new hospital which will be the first in sub-Saharan Africa as well.

The First public IVF centre established in Kampala, Uganda aims to improve access to regulated and cost effective fertility care across Uganda and the rest of Africa, details from Merck Foundation, show.

In East Africa, Burundi tops the list with a fertility rate of 5.5, or nearly six children for every woman, followed by Uganda (5.4), Tanzania (5.2), Ethiopia (4.6), Rwanda (4.2) and Kenya (3.9), world population data prepared by US-based Population Reference Bureau (PRB).

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the incidence of infertility is too high in Africa and developing countries, one in every four couples are infertile.

Read: The sad reality of infertility in Tanzania

 IVF is the most common and most effective type of assisted reproductive technology to help women become pregnant. The method of treatment in which the man’s sperm and the woman’s eggs are combined outside the body, in a laboratory dish, and then implanted in a woman’s uterus.

Merck Foundation Chief Executive, Dr Rasha Kelej, said in an interview with local media that she was optimistic the hospital would reduce the high cost of IVF to less than $972.29.

“In East Africa there is no single public hospital offering IVF, while the cost of services in private hospitals is too high that most patients cannot afford.  The establishment of the IVF centre in Kampala will drastically reduce the cost and make it affordable,” said Dr Rasha.

A session of IVF costs an average of $3,500. And if the procedure is not successful in the first round, the cost can go up to $9,700, depending on how many times it is done.

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