Awareness, affordability, accessibility: Key growth drivers in fertility segment

Published on Oct 27, 2022 11:49 AM IST

The article has been authored by Akshat Seth, CEO, CK Birla Healthcare Group.

According to the Call to Action, a report by Ernst & Young, the fertility industry in the country has grown by 20% in recent years.(Twitter/Mz_enaj)
According to the Call to Action, a report by Ernst & Young, the fertility industry in the country has grown by 20% in recent years.(Twitter/Mz_enaj)
ByHindustan Times

The fertility treatment ecosystem in India is rapidly transforming and is expected to continue its growth momentum in the years to come. According to the Call to Action, a report by Ernst & Young, the fertility industry in the country has grown by 20% in recent years. Growing infertility rates in the country can be attributed to several environmental and lifestyle reasons. This is prompting individuals to opt for advanced treatment options including in-vitro fertilisation (IVF), thereby boosting the growth trajectory of fertility treatment services in India. The IVF industry is growing rapidly with over 2.5 lakhs cycles being performed every year. Moreover, with advances in technology and skill levels of practitioners, the success rates of fertility treatment are rapidly improving - one of the major causes of this growth. Further, the introduction of the Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) & Surrogacy Regulations is driving further standardisation and focus on quality.

Infertility is a growing problem in India – nearly one in six married couples are believed to be impacted by this. Unfortunately, less than 1 % of the people affected seek medical evaluation for their condition, due to a lack of awareness, access, and affordability. The biggest challenge is limited awareness around the condition and the available treatment. Social stigma attached to infertility, myths like holding women solely responsible for conception and unwillingness to acknowledge male infertility create a gap in willingness to address infertility or enquire about fertility solutions. Many couples live in denial or are unaware of the signs and symptoms that may point out a fertility problem. In addition, misconceptions such as fertility treatment means expensive IVF and lack of knowledge around available treatment options lead to an unwillingness to reach out to a fertility expert.

As a first step, the industry needs to address these misconceptions and help normalise conversations around fertility and treatments like IVF. Today, there is a comprehensive range of treatments available for patients, including male infertility treatments, advanced genetic screening, diagnostics, laparoscopic gynaecological procedures, and donor services. There is a need to create awareness around these advancements in fertility treatments as well, which can help couples deliver a healthy baby.

The problem of infertility is not confined to metros and large cities. The incidence rates are high in smaller cities and rural areas as well. As we work toward building awareness across the country, we have to simultaneously address the issue of access to quality fertility treatment which today, is concentrated in big cities. The focus has to be on creating better access to the latest technology, global standard of quality fertility care and the latest equipment in the remotest part of the country.

Fertility services are often considered expensive thereby forcing couples to opt out. With the advent of medical technology, quality fertility treatment at affordable prices is now a possibility. Further, improving success rates mean the total cost of treatment can be brought down for the couples. In addition, transparent pricing with no hidden charges has to be the mantra for the industry.

Amping up affordable fertility solutions can be a game-changer.

With an increasing burden of infertility in the country, it all boils down to raising awareness around fertility and making ART and IVF facilities more accessible and affordable.

Infertility and the associated treatment are almost always an emotional journey for the couple with social and psychological pressures at play. It is imperative for service providers in this ecosystem to both acknowledge and integrate into treatment protocols. Counselling of couples to ensure their mental, emotional and social well-being will make the treatment more holistic and effective. Understanding what the couples go through in this journey and treating them with utmost compassion and care will go a long way in humanising fertility treatment.

The article has been authored by Akshat Seth, CEO, CK Birla Healthcare Group.

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