Of all the nine clinics in the country offering in vitro fertilisation and other advanced fertility treatments, none is in a public hospital.
However, the Kenyatta National Hospital has for the past two years been trying to set up the country’s first in vitro fertilisation centre in a public hospital.
“The centres could cost between Sh40 million to 60 million just for the equipment.
“We have sought approvals for the budgets but money has not yet been allocated,” says Dr Jane Machira, who is part of the Kenyatta hospital fertility committee.
“Our plan is to approach the private sector to have a private-public partnership in a public hospital,” she says.
Prof Koigi Kamau suggests that the government could allow couples to access these services but with limitations.
For example, they could be allowed to try the treatments a maximum of two or three times.
Infertility in Kenya is not taken as an urgent condition requiring immediate funding.
However, Dr Machira believes that it is a condition that needs to be taken a little more seriously.
“To those affected, fertility is a basic need. The need to reproduce is a basic human need. This is why there is need for public hospitals particularly Level 6 hospitals to offer in vitro fertilisation more cheaply,” says Dr Machira.
For those battling infertility but cannot afford high-end technological assistance, the next best option is surgery.
However, studies show that these surgeries are not only risky but have dismal success rates.
“More than 50 per cent of those who cannot afford in vitro fertilisation seek herbal medicines for fertility treatments.
“Patients give in to pressure from in-laws and relatives and use herbal medicines. This is what happens when people lack options,” adds Dr Machira.