The first African baby born using a new form of low-cost IVF developed in Belgium

A new low-cost IVF treatment developed near Flanders, Belgium has resulted in its first African live birth in Ghana.

Available at just a fraction of the regular cost, this new method has been developed with couples in the developing world in mind.

The method, developed by Willem Ombelet’s team at the East Limburg Hospital in Genk, is possible for just 5% of the typical price. Ombelet sees this as a way to level the playing field for ‘average’ couples in the developing world, allowing them to afford the procedure that is normally only available for wealthy people. IVF typically costs around €4,000, while this new method can be done for just €200.

What makes this method so much more affordable?

It is carried out using simpler techniques and more affordable lab equipment. This could be a huge blessing to couples all over the developing world. The Walking Egg is an international non-profit organisation originally founded in Flanders. They are dedicated to helping couples all over the world gain access to fertility treatments, and overcome infertility.

The low-cost IVF method has previously resulted in 89 babies born in the Netherlands, Germany, and Belgium. Now, Baby Kwadwo in Ghana has become the first live birth in Africa. That said, the organisation has not released statistics about how effective the procedure is when compared with traditional IVF.

Ombelet is optimistic

He recently stated, “For women in developing countries, infertility often means they face the risk of being abandoned by their husband and family. For many couples there, the chance of a dignified old age often depends on having children.”

In addition to helping people in the developing world, scientists are optimistic that people all over the world will be able to benefit from the low-cost innovation.

As Ombelet says, “Many families don’t have the financial capacities to afford traditional IVF treatment.” The medical industry in Portugal has already begun using the technique, and doctors in India, China, Egypt, the US, and the UK have already expressed interest.

 

What do you think about this new technique? Would you be interested in using a lower cost IVF technique? Would it depend on the success rates, or would you be willing to try a few cycles even if chances of live birth were lower?

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