In a recent opinion piece for the Financial Express, Dr Kshitiz Murdia expressed his view that IVF should be treated just like other mainstream healthcare treatments
As healthcare is one of the largest sectors in India, it’s essential to give it a closer look. After all, the industry is growing rapidly, and more and more foreigners are coming to India for fertility treatments.
Dr Murdia stresses that more people will need infertility treatments very soon. Changing lifestyles, increasing pollution, new illnesses, and personal choices mean that the fertility industry is likely to be in even higher demand. It seems that policymakers are finally paying this topic the attention it deserves.
Fertility rates have been declining in India for the past twenty years. According to 2016’s the National Family Health Survey (NFHS), the Total Fertility Rate (TFR) was 2.2. This was a decrease from 2006 when the rate was 2.7 – a huge decrease in just a decade! While some of this decrease is born out of increased education and lifestyle choices, there is no doubt that many couples are dealing with infertility.
Early data from the 2021 NFHS survey shows that the number is now even lower, down to 2. This is likely due to added stress from the pandemic and lockdown. It’s clear that more people will be seeking IVF.
Dr Murdia stresses that “infertility treatments like IVF has to be regarded as part of the mainstream healthcare treatments.” He recommends that the government mandate fertility treatments be included in health insurance. IVF is expensive for ordinary people. That’s why he says, “financial support through insurance will bring much relief to such couples, and it will also encourage more penetration of such treatments in small cities/towns. Including fertility treatments in health insurance plans will minimise the financial risks of anyone seeking help.”
He also points out that natural pregnancies are included in insurance policies, so it makes sense for assisted fertility pregnancies be covered as well. This will also help there be more standardisation and accountability in the industry. Dr Murdia reminds readers that the Government approved the ART (Regulation) Bill in December 2021, which was a positive step towards regulating the industry. Since then, there has been talk of better implementation of best practices.
We will see fertility clinics and sperm banks create much better codes of conduct and set higher standards in the near future. According to Dr Murdia, this has “also bolstered the confidence of couples going for such treatment by bringing more transparency, thus allowing them in making an informed decision.”
He continued by saying that more educational initiatives need to be implemented to spread more awareness about fertility and get people the help they need. This will also help to end a lot of the stigma in villages. As Dr Murdia says, “IVF’s education among masses and knowledge about such treatment will get it socially accepted across, which shall further brighten the overall growth prospects of healthcare in India.”
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