Affordable ART: a different perspective

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Abstract

BACKGROUND

Although ∼10% of the population is affected by infertility, the treatment option of in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) remains unaffordable for the majority of infertile couples. We have initiated a lowcost programme incorporating an uncommonly used, but recognized, ovarian stimulation protocol, together with certain costlimiting initiatives in an established assisted reproductive technology (ART) set up.

METHODS

The medical records of women who underwent the lowcost programme were analysed. Clomiphene citrate 50 mg daily was administered from Day 2 of the cycle and continued till the day of hCG trigger, thus preventing the LH surge. Intermittent doses of human menopausal gonadotrophin 150 IU were administered on alternate days from the 5th day onwards. Oocyte retrieval was carried out once at least two follicles of >18 mm were identified. The cycle was monitored by ultrasound only, with embryo transfer being carried out on Day 3. Clinical outcomes were recorded together with an estimation of the direct costs per cycle. Direct cost calculations did not include professional charges or facility costs.

RESULTS

Of 143 women evaluated, 104 women underwent embryo transfer. The live birth rate and clinical pregnancy rate per embryo transfer were 19 and 22%. The live birth rate per initiated cycle was 14% (20/143). The multiple pregnancy rate was 26% with no case of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome being recorded. The average direct cost per cycle was US$ 675 for IVF and US$ 725 for an ICSI treatment cycle.

CONCLUSIONS

Using this protocol, together with several costcutting measures, we achieved an acceptable live birth rate per transfer of 19% at a reasonable cost. This approach could be used by established ART centres to provide treatment to couples who cannot afford conventional ART.

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