India: The baby-making factory of the world

| May 7, 2012

Staff Writer - Archi

India is slowly becoming the new destination for childless couples from all over the world. The country is now the world’s biggest baby-making factory — and in a slightly different way than one might have thought. People come here with hope from Luxembourg to Saudi Arabia, Tanzania to Thailand, from the US to Uzbekistan. There are IVF clinics all over the country, in the metros, big cities and even the smaller towns also. Couples from the US and Europe have been coming for cheap artificial reproduction technology (ART) treatment — of which IVF, or in vitro fertilisation is perhaps the most sought-after method.

A recent study showed there are over 500 ART clinics across the land. And India offers a wide range of services, such as artificial insemination by sperm from a husband or donor, in vitro fertilisation and embryo transfer (IVF-ET), gamete intra-fallopian transfer (GIFT), donor egg and embryo treatment, sperm injection (ICSI) and endoscopic diagnosis as well as the use of surrogate mothers.

With more and more such cases coming up, hospitals and doctors have also become more transparent about the process and then even give couples counselling before the treatment.

In the UK, Israel, Australia, France and Denmark, it’s getting more and more difficult to meet the demand for donor eggs; India is thus emerging as a natural alternative. Relaxed laws regarding third-party reproduction and the easy availability of surrogates also allow for treatment procedures that are banned in many countries. Above all, the popularity of India seems to rest on the skill of our doctors and the facilities available.

Photo courtesy medicaltourismco.com

However, the treatment doesn’t come very cheap. An IVF cycle in India can cost around $2000 with other overheads, such as housing and food, can add hugely to the cost. One IVF cycle takes about seven months to show if the mother has conceived and many couples have to go through more than one cycle.

Many residents nearby such clinics are now giving their rooms on rent to such couples on a much cheaper rate than they would have to shell out at hotels.

The new spurt of such patients is from Islamic countries and Africa now. “I got the first cases from Afghanistan in 2006. I used to get one or two cases a month at the time. Now, between October and April, I see an average of 50 new patients from Afghanistan in a month. Many patients come from Iraq and Iran too,” says a doctor. Infertility is seen as a curse in many Islamic societies. Since these countries hardly have any ART clinics, people of all classes — shopkeepers and teachers, businessmen and daily-wagers — come down to the numerous clinics in the lanes and bylanes of Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Bangalore now.

The doctor said patients from Muslim countries seem more desperate to have children. “I have seen a man walk in with four wives but no children. The first option, if the first wife does not bear a child, is to remarry without ascertaining if the cause is male infertility. In African countries, they are not as shattered about being childless but want to conceive.” But the taboos are the same.

Different agents have also jumped in to make some bucks seeing an opportunity. Agents are now providing translators or guides, arrange visas, book tickets, arrange clinical appointments and even food and stay. An agent said they have handled infertile couples from 31 countries visiting India for treatment.

India is thus the new abode where prayers of hundreds of childless couples are answered as ‘borderless’ babies are becoming the new citizens of the world.

 

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Category: Culture & Society

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