Covid-19 Compromised IVF Treatment Access to 90% Couples: Study


    July 2020: World IVF Day symbolises the essence and significance of the IVF technique in infertility treatment. In India, only 3 out of 30 million infertile couples could pin their hopes on attaining parenthood through treatment.

    However, in 2020, 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’ organised by HEAL Foundation with the support of Bharat Serums & Vaccines on World IVF Day, 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’.”


    “Generally, the average of couples seeking IVF treatment per quarter is more than 50,000. However, the number of couples seeking treatment have gone down by over 95% during the COVID-19 pandemic. In the last three months from April to June, less than 1000 patients sought IVF treatment. There has been a steep fall in the number of patients from 50,000 to 1,000 in a quarter”, 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.

    And during the COVID-19 crisis followed by the lockdown, they have suffered a lot as IVF is a time-sensitive treatment. Every passing week is crucial for couples who expect to become parents through this procedure. The patient treatment schedule has been changed or postponed due to which they have to face huge emotional dissatisfaction and uncertainty. In such a perplexing time, spreading awareness regarding various aspects of reproductive health and assuring such couples through various channels is desirable.

    “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.


    “Women seeking motherhood through ‘In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) treatment’ from remote areas postponed their plan to conceive during the lockdown because of travel restrictions. And now, post unlocking, the latest surge in the number of COVID-19 cases have thrown a wave of fear, compelling such women to further postpone their plan to conceive through IVF. While the situation is uniform across India, in the east, the number of couples on IVF treatment has been in single-digit for last 2 months”, 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 IVF 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 in a highly sanitized environment and there is no need to fear about its success if you follow preventive guidelines issued by the government.”

    Adding a new feather in the cap of ‘Health Awareness’ drive series during COVID-19, HEAL Foundation — a healthcare advocacy group organised ‘Reproductive Health e-Summit’ with the support of Bharat Serums & Vaccines to seek experts’ advice on various topics on ‘Reproductive Health in India’ on the occasion of World IVF Day on 24th July 2020. Ten reproductive Health & IVF experts from across India participated as speakers in the eSummit.

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