Although infertility is a growing and massive problem across the globe, not least in the West, experts are beginning to take a different tact.
To date, infertility has been treated as something of a problem, separate from the overall idea of human reproduction. However, some experts believe this approach is missing a trick. They believe that it is the question of reproduction as a whole that should be discussed.
In other words, infertility shouldn’t be focused on at the expense of other areas such as family planning.
This new approach seems to be paying off as well, since a group of researchers in South Africa believe they have come up with an idea which could help in egg fertilisation.
South Africa has a particular problem, in that infertility is still considered a woman’s problem. For example, there are cases where in-laws have demanded back what would be described as a dowry in the West, if a couple don’t produce a child within a particular expected time frame.
As a consequence, a Belgian obstetrician decided to investigate. He found that facilities to help people in South Africa were woefully inadequate.
Dr. Willem Ombelet also believes that the problem is not necessarily one of infertility alone, but a lack of understanding about the whole area of human reproduction. He came to the conclusion that infertility should not be isolated from other areas such as family planning.
So, what is Dr Willem Ombelet’s approach?
He’s dubbed it ‘IVF in a shoebox’.
The idea behind this new technique is to help couples who traditionally have to use established IVF facilities, but are unable to do so because of cost.
‘IVF in a shoebox’ also has an added advantage in that the embryos can be contained safely inside a small machine (the size of a shoebox) that protects them while travelling long distances.
What’s more, and perhaps the most important factor, is the cost per IVF treatment cycle is drastically reduced to around £159.
The technique is being rolled out in South Africa at the moment but it is hoped that it will be available in the UK later this year.