GUWAHATI, Sept 3 - For the poor, childless married couples in Assam, there finally emerges a ray of hope!
For the first time, the State Government plans to facilitate IVF (in-vitro fertilization) treatment or birth of a �test tube baby� for the fertility-challenged couples in government-run hospitals.
Sources informed that an IVF centre will first start at the Guwahati Medical College and Hospital (GMCH) and subsequently, such centres will be replicated in other medical colleges as well.
The introduction of the IVF centre under the Gynaecology Department of the GMCH would mean that poor, childless parents, too, would have access to the facilities at a cost which would be less than half the cost charged by private hospitals across the country.
A source at Dispur told this reporter that although the idea to have such facilities at the GMCH was mooted some two years back, the matter got stalled for a number of reasons.
�The IVF centre at the GMCH would be of state-of-the-art quality and a team of dedicated staff, including doctors, would render their services. It will have all the specialised features of top class facility,� the sources said, adding the nitty-gritty of the set-up is being discussed.
In Assam, the first test tube baby was born on July 7, 1995 under Dr ML Goenka at the Institute of Human Reproduction (IHR) located in Guwahati and since then hundreds of such babies were born in the Northeast.
In the Northeast, around 80 to 100 babies are born through IVF treatment every month and the success rate is believed to be highest in the IHR, the institute which pioneered the trend in the region under Dr Goenka.
Dr Deepak Goenka, an IVF expert and Chairman of the IHR, told this reporter that the success rate of IVF treatment in the institute (IHR) is more than 60 per cent.
Apart from the IHR, five other clinics offer the IVF treatment in Guwahati.
Dr Goenka, when asked, said that it is good that the government hospitals are coming up with such plans because not everyone can afford such treatment in a private set-up.
�The acceptance level among people of the State and the region as a whole has been increasing over the years. Being one of the pioneers in this field, we at IHR are treating couples not only from places like Delhi and West Bengal but also from abroad. We have the best facilities at par with any international set-up,� Dr Goenka said, pointing out that 10 to 15 per cent of the married couples in India are estimated to be infertile, with Assam being no exception.
Dr Illias Ali of the GMCH, who has been leading the family planning campaign, too, has welcomed the government move saying the decision would be a blessing to couples who are not so financially well-off.
�I have seen parents shelling out money beyond their capacity to become parents. Hopefully, with IVF treatment facility within the government set-up, such cases will not be repeated,� Dr Ali added.
IVF is the process by which eggs are removed from the ovaries and mixed with sperm in a laboratory culture dish for fertilization. The fertilised egg is then transferred to the patient�s uterus.