A new fertility treatment centre was opened late last month in Addis Abeba, expanding the number of facilities that offer the service in the city to three.

New Leaf Fertility Centre opened its doors on South Africa St., near the Embassy of South Africa, at the end of March, making it the second private clinic to offer in vitro fertilisation (IVF) in Ethiopia after Alhikmah Fertility Centre, which was established a few years ago. New Leaf was founded by Iman Abdulrahman (MD) and Abubeker Mohammedsalah with 50 million Br in capital.

The complete instalment of equipment took over two years, and New Leaf has already registered close to 130 people seeking treatment for issues relating to fertility. Even though fees vary with the different protocols and procedures, charges for treatment generally range from 5,000 Br to 170,000 Br, a much lower amount than 10,000 dollars in Thailand.

Next to Alhikmah Fertility Centre and the Centre for Reproductive Medicine at St. Paul's Hospital Millennium Medical College, New Leaf is the third to bring IVF technology, a type of assisted reproductive technology used to treat infertility, to the country. The emergence of these facilities in Ethiopia will reduce the travel people commonly make to Thailand, India, or South Africa for treatment.

Around 15pc of couples struggle with infertility or sub-fertility; of these, almost half need assisted-reproduction, according to Feruz Surur (MD), senior gynaecology consultant, reproductive endocrinology and infertility subspecialist, and medical director for the fertility centre at St. Paul's Hospital.

It has been two years since the first public IVF center was inaugurated under St. Paul's Hospital. The centre provides services ranging from counseling to termination of unwanted pregnancy and all ranges of treatments such as surgeries, medication, and assisted reproduction. More than 1,000 IVF procedures have been carried out at the hospital.

The centre's public service does not charge for treatments, but patients are expected to cover the cost of medication, which can go as high as 90,000 Br. The private wing at the centre, on the other hand, charges up to 25,000 Br for treatments.

The Addis Abeba Food, Medicine & Healthcare Administration & Control Authority is in charge of licensing and regulating these fertility treatment centres. Four years ago, the Authority developed a new standard for IVF centers.

"We had a general standard set up in 2002 for licensing health centers; however, as new areas of healthcare centers start to emerge, we are adding new measures catered to the specific needs of the focus area," Abi Birhane, health facility licensing team leader at the Authority, told Fortune.

New Leaf Fertility Centre plans to build its own facility and open its own research and training centre for IVF and embryology, which are in acute shortage in the country.

According to the founders, it has faced challenges during the establishment process, from finding the right facilities for laboratories to government bureaucracy. Barriers related to COVID-19 also affected the transportation of laboratory equipment, accessories and technicians from abroad.

The founders of New Leaf believe that the fertility centre will save on transportation, treatment, and accommodation expenses and offer the added comfort of having family and friends around.

PUBLISHED ON Apr 17,2021 [ VOL 22 , NO 1094]

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