Noting that childless couples in India tend to face stigma and there is a need to democratise fertility treatments, Dr. (Smt.) Tamilisai Soundararajan, Hon’ble Governor of Telangana & Hon’ble Lt. Governor of Puducherry, agreed to take the appeal of doctors to cover these options in the government of India’s flagship Ayushman Bharat programme. Speaking as the Chief Guest at the inauguration of the 2nd India IVF Summit by Integrated Health & Wellbeing (IHW) Council today, Dr. Soundararajan urged the medical, pharma, and social sector to come together and work in this direction.
“It is concerning to know that around 15% of the couples in our country are finding it difficult to plan the family due to infertility. Family and friends suggest various ways to have a baby, but most of them are unscientific and can be harmful to health. Many studies show fertility rate in India has dropped and reached the replacement rate of 2.1. As a woman and a governor, health and wellbeing of women has always been important considerations in all my decisions. I believe that a wider reach of fertility treatment by popularising it and making it affordable is a key intervention for empowering women. I request my colleagues and compatriots in the medical, pharma, and social sector to come together and make dedicated efforts to democratise fertility treatment options so that anyone who is in need can benefit from it. I will also appeal to the Hon’ble Prime Minister and Hon’ble Union Health Minister to bring infertility under the Ayushman Bharat Yojana,” says Dr. (Smt.) Tamilisai Soundararajan, Hon’ble Governor of Telangana & Hon’ble Lt. Governor of Puducherry, herself a gynaecologist.
“India is the second largest populated country and according to the Indian Society of Assisted Reproduction, 1 in 6 couples are finding it difficult to plan their family. Infertility is a trauma that affects families and disrupts their equation with the society at large, making it difficult for them to become productive members of society. It is appreciable that our doctors have contributed a lot to get rid of this problem. The World Health Organization also identifies it as a disease as infertility is taking an unimaginable toll on physical, mental, and social health of millions of couples and individuals. Infertility is a known cause of mental and marital distress across the country and the subcontinent and can damage physical, social and mental health of women,” says Mr Kamal Narayan, CEO, Integrated Health and Wellbeing (IHW) Council.
Dr. Hrishikesh Pai, President-Elect- Federation of Obstetric and Gynaecological Societies of India (FOGSI) and Medical Director, Bloom IVF, says, “An IVF cycle in India costs around INR 1.25 lakhs to INR 2 lakhs. But we have done our first cycle for as little as INR 70,000. We have decided that those with annual family income of INR 2.5 lakhs or less will get a cycle at INR 70,000. Low-cost healthcare should be a minimal profit area – which must be ploughed in back to treatment so that one can get quality care. I believe it is time the Indian IVF industry should be supported by the government to expand worldwide.” “As a part of its CSR initiative, BSV has supported free IVF treatments of 50 needy couples in association with ISAR (Indian Society for Assisted Reproduction). BSV has also supported free screening camps by IVF centres across India and has facilitated a dialogue between the medical fraternity, government and insurance agencies to de-stigmatize infertility and support aspiring couples’ journeys towards the joy of parenthood. BSV has also rolled out financial support to its employees in need of IVF or ART treatment since IVF is not directly covered by any insurance company in India. We need to look for support from science and are into R&D so that the cost can be improved – there is a need to provide affordable treatment,” says Mr Sanjiv Navangul, Managing Director & CEO, Bharat Serums & Vaccines Limited.