Women with infertility problems in East Africa will soon benefit from the first ever public hospital to offer in vitro fertilisation (IVF) services in the region. The fertility centre, currently under construction in Kampala, Uganda, after a deal with Merck Foundation, will be opened to the public in March 2018. The centre will improve access to safe and regulated fertility care in Sub-Saharan countries including Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Zambia, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Gambia, Ghana, Ethiopia and Cote d’Ivoire. According to a recently released report by World Population Data prepared by US-based Population Reference Bureau, Kenya’s fertility rate stands at 3.9 which is below Africa’s average of 4.6 or about five children for every woman but still higher than the global average of 2.5. 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). IVF is the most common and most effective type of assisted reproductive technology to help women become pregnant. This is a 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 she was optimistic that the hospital will reduce the high cost of IVF to less than Sh100,000. For couples seeking IVF, one of the biggest obstacles is the cost, which is not covered by insurance companies. “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 Sh350,000. And if the procedure is not successful in the first round, the cost can go up to Sh1 million depending on how many times it is done.

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