First In-Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) lab opens in Gaborone

19th September 2017
Dr Molelekwa Source:The Midweek Sun

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By Ernest Moloi -


*Women can now freeze their eggs locally

The wait is over! Local women finding it hard to conceive can finally breathe a sigh of relief. No longer do they need to illegally sneak into neighbouring South Africa for that desperate help. All this is thanks to the first-ever In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) Clinic, which opened doors to the public in April this year. Gaborone Fertility Clinic is located in one of the city’s burgeoning suburbs and in close proximity of a shopping complex and a private laboratory.

IVF is an assisted reproductive technology that mimics the normal fertilisation process that happens in the fallopian tubes. In vitro means ‘outside’ as opposed to ‘in vivo’ which means inside the fallopian tubes. Women who cannot conceive through the normal process will find this technology pretty useful. In developed countries where it has long been introduced, it was traditionally used by women who had blocked tubes.

However, according to the technology’s pioneer locally, the gynaecologist and obstetrician Dr. Vincent Molelekwa, IVF is also being embraced by men who suffer infertility. The only bone of contention is that owing to its specialised nature, the technology is beyond the means of commoners. It will most likely be afforded by the rich. Sadly, infertility is on the rise. It affects both men and women and is compounded by their hectic lifestyles.

Worse still, as is common in Japan, women concentrate their youth - the prime of their reproductive ages - to studies and careers, only to wake up in their mid-30s or towards menopause when conceiving becomes near impossible. Although IVF is expensive, it is neither covered by medical aids nor is it subsidised by government. To circumnavigate this obstacle, Dr. Molelekwa suggests that women should freeze their eggs whilst in the prime of their reproductive ages for later use when they would have grown older and made their wealth.

Egg freezing can also be necessitated by sickness or any other life threatening condition that prevents a woman from conceiving naturally. The Clinic boasts all the requisite scientific equipment, such as Gamete Bank sourced entirely from overseas. Equally it uses specialised medical personnel who don’t come cheap – such as specialised lab technicians, fertility specialists and embryologists.

Through IVF, the clinic can harvest a woman’s eggs (ovum) and fertilise them with the male’s sperm in the lab after which the fertilised egg (zygote) can be inserted into the woman’s womb using a catheter. That is if the woman’s womb is functional. Alternatively if the woman’s womb is damaged and cannot carry the baby, the couple can rent a womb through what is commonly known as surrogacy to get a third party to carry and conceive its baby. Obviously, this will require enactment of laws to provide an environment conducive for this type of pregnancy.

The current lacuna in law, save for the Public Health Act, which partially covers this technology at Part XX under the heading, ‘Control of use of tissues and body parts in humans,’ calls for serious lobbying by both the Health Professionals Council and society in general to get lawmakers to create an enabling legal framework for citizens to conveniently access this specialised service. However, Health Services Chief Medical Officer at the ministry Dr. Patrick Masokwane is confident Public Health Act is an adequate stopgap measure, especially that its supporting regulations are currently being drafted.




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