Dar es Salaam. From January 2020, Muhimbili National Hospital (MNH); Tanzania’s largest public referral facility, is expected to start offering In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) treatment to women battling infertility.
The cost of treatment, according to the hospital’s director Prof Lawrence Museru, would range between Sh2 million and Sh10million.
IVF, an assisted reproductive technology that helps women become pregnant, is mostly not covered by insurance companies. In Tanzania, like in most other parts of the African region, the cost of treatment is generally known to be high, especially in private clinics.
Historically, the first human baby resulting from IVF was born in 1978. While IVF has revolutionized treatment of infertility for many years, in Africa, the services are still limited to a few countries like Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya.
IVF remains one of the many procedures in the field of bio-medicine known as assisted reproduction.
In Kenya, a session of IVF costs an average of $3,400, and if the procedure is not successful in the first round, the cost can go up to $9,720, depending on how many times it is done.
Muhimbili becomes the first public hospital in Tanzania to offer IVF but those in need of the service will have to wait until January, when the facilities for treatment are expected to be in place.
“To begin with, the hospital sent staff to India to acquire knowledge on how the procedure is carried out,” said Prof Museru.
He added, “We have begun procuring medical supplies needed for IVF treatment and currently, a building for the treatment facility is being rehabilitated [in Dar es Salaam].”
What IVF entails
IVF involves procedures in which 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.
MNH’s Head of Obstetrics and Gynecology Department, Dr Vincent Tarimo says the hospital receives 30 out of 350 infertile women per week.
Dr Tarimo says IVF is an option for women suffering from defective uteruses, fallopian tubes or when their male partners have low sperm counts and other reproductive health conditions.
Reference: Current Practices and Controversies in Assisted Reproduction. (World Health Organisation, 2002).