Coimbatore: Fertility specialists in the city said the effectiveness of the Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) Regulation Bill, 2020, which was passed by the Union cabinet two days ago, would depend on how well the health department implement the bill’s clauses. They, however, welcomed the move to regulate ART clinics.
Dr Kannagi Uthariraj, head of department of fertility and reproductive medicine at Kovai Medical Centre and Hospital, said, “The bill makes it mandatory for an infertility clinic to register with the state health department and submit paper work to show it has the required staff and infrastructure. It also requires them to document the type of cases that they treat, number of in vitro fertilization (IVF) and intrauterine insemination (IUI) they perform, and the success rate.”
According to Dr Mirudhubashini Govindarajan, clinical director, Motherhood by Women’s Centre, the bill would ensure standardization of IVF and IUI protocols and techniques and that they are performed only when required that too according to guidelines. “It will also ensure that no unnecessary or unproven techniques are forced on patients.”
At 164, Tamil Nadu boasts of the second highest number of fertility clinics and ART centres that are registered with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) in the country.
Fertility specialists said multiple issues could occur when couples approach infertility clinics that don’t follow the set rules and protocols. “We have come across cases in which clinics have implanted an embryo that was developed with third party egg and sperm without the couples’ consent. There are also cases in which clinics keep the couples in dark about the plan to use another man’s sperm or another woman’s egg for IVF till the last moment,” Dr Uthariraj said.
There are also infertility clinics that display fake credentials and staff that they do not have.
“The bill has clauses related to required staff and infrastructure that a clinic should have. It is a welcome move as there are clinics that operate with just consultant embryologist and andrologist, who visit the centre once in a week or so. You need a full-time embryologist to maintain the lab 24×7 for the best results. Otherwise, it’s a drain on the couple,” Dr Mirudhubashini said.
Gynecologists, meanwhile, welcomed the move to make insurance covers for egg donors mandatory and stop multiple embryo implantation. “Often, when we do embryo reduction after three of the four implants, it sometimes affects the healthy babies also. So, we are working towards a single embryo implantation, which through genetic testing has proven to be the best. The insurance cover for egg donors would help in preventing their exploitation,” said Dr Meenakshi Priya, fertility consultant at NOVA IVF Fertility.
However, the act has limitations too. “The act mandates submission of paperwork and consents, which clinics could cook up. It would work only if the doctor works with a conscience and clinics’ statements are crosschecked and inspected,” Dr Uthariraj said.
Pointing out that making the genetic testing of embryos mandatory may lead to sex selection issues, as results would reveal the gender, Dr Priya, said, “So, how the government will ensure sex determination does not happen along with genetic testing is yet to be seen.-Times Of India