Kolkata: Forty-three years after Subhas Mukhopadhay created India’s first and world’s second test tube baby in a government hospital, Bengal and the eastern region are now set to get the first state-run Centre of Excellence in Reproductive Medicine. Treatment at the unit on the SSKM Hospital campus will be free. The centre will also be home for advanced research.
An e-tender that was finalized last week and the Ghosh Dastidar Institute of Fertility Research (GDIFR), run by former Trinamool minister and infertility expert, Sudarshan Ghosh Dastidar, was chosen to be the knowledge partner for Bengal’s first government-run health care unit offering infertility treatment. The in vitro fertilization (IVF) clinic and research centre will come up in the hospital’s OPD block.
Fertility expert Gautam Khastgir said, “It’s the best gift for the father of assisted reproductive therapy (ART) on his 90th birth anniversary (celebrated on 1 October). Dr Mukhopadhay had to conduct his experiments quietly inside the NRS Hospital lab because his research had no state support.”
The SSKM Hospital’s director Monimoy Bandopadhyay told TOI, “I don’t think there’s any other government-run facility in India like this one. Hospitals like AIIMS provide subsidized treatment, but our centre will take care of everything — from the IVF treatment to the baby’s birth. IVF treatment is inordinately expensive. Several couples from the weaker sections continue to suffer the pangs of childlessness because they cannot afford costly procedures.” IVF is the process of fertilization by manually combining an egg and a sperm in a laboratory dish and then transferring the embryo to the uterus.
The SSKM director said the centre would take six months for full-fledged operations. “We hope to start the OPD in December. GDIFR will provide primary training to doctors, nurses and other medical personnel so the centre becomes independent within three years,” he said.
The government will pay GDIFR Rs 2.35crore for three years to “operate, maintain and manage” the IVF centre. Ghosh Dastidar said, “This is chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s pet project. We have started training the first team of medicos and technicians. It will be developed as a centre of advanced research as well.” The OPD, starting in December, will help in screening the couples who require IVF.
The cost of a single cycle of IVF varies between Rs 1.5 lakh and Rs 2 lakh at various private fertility clinics in the city. Since the success rate of live births is only 30% to 40%, more cycles are needed. “Cost is the main reason why many people cannot afford IVF. If one can afford six cycles of IVF, the success rate will go up to 80% or 90%. But the cost also goes up to Rs 4 lakh. Now, more people will be able to get IVF treatment,” Khastgir said.
According to estimates, a little less than 10% of all married couples suffer from infertility. While most of them get results through medicines or artificial insemination of sperm into the uterus, about 5% of such couples need IVF.