The University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital (UITH) Ilorin has joined the league of elites in Africa in the area of stunning successes in Assisted Reproductive System, known in medical parlance as In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF).
According to the modern father of the IVF in West Africa, Prof. Augustine Oruhe who is from the department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (O and G) University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH), “no publicly owned hospital at present in Africa has a better record success in the IVF than the UITH.”
He added, “by this feat, the UITH has joined the league of teaching hospitals with functional IVF. I am not the founder of the IVF in Nigeria, my brothers Professors Giwa Osagie and Oladapo Ashiru did. It was indeed the first of its kind in West Africa as far back as 1987 or thereabouts. But IVF in Nigeria vanished with publicly funded hospitals and went to the private unit.
“The slogan at a time was that it was not practicable in public sector due to bureaucracy. I am the founder of the new system that has created and sustained an effective IVF centre in the public sector in Nigeria. I had assisted in establishing the centres in Jos, Enugu, Port Harcourt and Ilorin. But Ilorin is an amazing success story after just three years. I am therefore here to celebrate a bumper harvest. This feat would not have been possible without God.”
The UITH IVF centre, located at the serene Eastern end of the sprawling hospital was established three years ago by the Chief Medical Director, (CMD) Professor Abdulwaheed Olatinwo. Already, the centre where Oruhe helped to nurture into maturity at the inception stage, has assisted in bringing into the world, 19 babies, (9 boys and 10 girls) including a set of triplet.
For Olatinwo while receiving Oruhe on behalf of the team of management of the UITH during a courtesy call, “we never thought the experience could work in a public funded hospital considering the enormity of the bureaucratic bottlenecks in it, but due to the passion we have for the societal less privileged- who would have died childless- we were not deterred by the teething problems.
“We persisted undeterred just as we never for once relegated the factor of God who alone has the pedigree of 100 per cent success rates at all times. We need to stress here that cases brought here had been cases with failure rates elsewhere. So we don’t enjoy the benefits of what can be called minor cases. But today, we are celebrating three years of God’s faithfulness, grace and excellence. I will like autonomy for the IVF centre to sustain the good works being done in it, irrespective of who is the CMD here.”
Oruhe, who is also the Director of Human Reproductive and Research Centre UBTH, stunned by the simultaneous deliveries inside the twin theatre of four IVF babies, including a set of twins at the UITH on Wednesday December 7 this year, lamented the ignorance of many Nigerians on the workings and inherent benefits of the IVF technologies.
The Guardian overheard him saying this in a conversation with the Head of the UITH IVF centre, Dr. Lukman Omokanye, “do you know that one day, I was showing a doctor one of the IVF babies and the next thing he exclaimed was, ‘he is like every other babies.’ Why should such a comment come from a medical doctor? It shows that many of our colleagues are indeed ignorant of the workings of the system. Why should the IVF babies in the first instance be different from other babies when they pass through the same procedures of conceptions and births?
At present UITH is second only to UBTH in the area of IVF technologies and breakthroughs. But elated Oruhe due for retirement June next year stirred the hornet nest when he said that the UBTH may have a more magnificent IVF building, the UITH has a more modern team and equipment. According to Olatinwo who three years ago deplored the young Omokanye to Benin to tap from Oruhe’s experience, “we set up this unit due to our quests to put smiles on the faces of those touted as childless. As Africans once there is a problem of infertility, it will surely lead to divorce. But the UITH has now been telling those involved that just as a woman could be infertile so could a man also be non virile.”
Giving a more incisive lecture on the IVF Oruhe who held spell bond his audience for about two hours with a hilarious but educating lecture wanted more research works on the system in Nigeria especially the aspect of surrogacy, which is yet to receive more acceptability in the country.
Besides, he urged the Federal Government to treat the issue of infertility among some couples as a disease like every other diseases considered chronic. Oruhe, during the UITH lecture said about 20 per cent of couples in the country are faced with the problems associated with infertility. Speaking on the topic ‘In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF), as Treatment for Human Reproduction Problems Beyond Infertility’, the 69 years old Don, said the National Assembly should legislate in favour of his proposition towards alleviating the trauma of couples facing such challenges. For him, men should stop putting the blames on their wives as recent scientific research has shown that infertility as a health challenge could affect both men and women equally.
Defining infertility at the lecture presided over by the Chief Medical Director (CMD) of the UITH, Professor Abdulwaheed Olatinwo, Oruhe said it is the inability to achieve pregnancy within one year duration of regular (evenly spaced 48 hours interval) ejaculatory vagina sexual inter course without contraception between a man and a woman in the reproductive age group.
He advised couples with challenges of infertility to ensure that they mate at least three times a week and stop relying on ovulation counting of 14 days after menstrual circle of a woman as recent medical statistics have proved that ovulation could no longer be relied upon for conception.
He noted, “the Federal Government should legislate to recognise infertility as a disease like Diabetes, High Blood Pressure or even malaria. It has all the characteristics of what could be called a disease. It has a cause and it is treatable. Nigeria is one of the few countries in the world that has not seen infertility as a disease through legislation. It is high time relevant bodies in the country will spear head this agitation.”
Considering the rather high cost of IVF for less privileged Nigerians in need of it, Oruhe said the Federal Government should establish dedicated infertility clinics in all its hospitals across the country to reduce the seeming monopoly of the privately owned clinics on it.
The Don added that relevant experts should continuously stimulate more research works on the IVF just as he believed that the nation with its over bloated human population would require about 6,000 IVF across the nation.
Putting age 35 and above in women as risky for child bearing, he said apart from the inherent danger, conception at the age bracket is usually cumbersome just as he recommended hygienic environment for deliveries to avoid infections.
He therefore urged employers of labour to allow women-friendly policies that would favour them having their children at early stages just as he sharply criticised the expulsion of some female students from either school or para-military institutions due to pregnancies.
He added, “God raised us up to defend women and bring them out of whatever worst situation they may be but above it all, there are situations far above science and at that level we cry to God and look up to Him for His intervention. But in all pregnancies should not be seen as a thing of shame.”
Besides, Oruhe canvassed special recognition for midwives noting that unlike other health providers apart from doctors, they remain the only health workers who have the rights to admit patients and conduct procedures on them.
Speaking at the event, Olatinwo urged the Federal Government to include the issue of infertility in the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) to accommodate the less privileged Nigerians just as he disclosed that 10 per cent of the money paid by the privileged IVF patients of the UITH are diverted to care for the less privileged patients of the hospital. Besides, he said, “we have kept intact all the CDs of all the procedures at our IVF centre for verification.”
The Head of Department of the UITH O and G, Professor Olayinka Balogun commended the CMD for giving unflinching supports for the establishment and growth of the IVF centre of the hospital, noting that the centre remains an active one withing the O and G department, “and we are very proud of its achievement.”
Among other events lined up for the third year anniversary of the hospital’s IVF centre, all the IVF children, including baby Aishat, now two years old, who was the first IVF baby of the hospital, a set of triplets, Mohammed, Mustapha and Munirat children of Mr Akorede, Gift Olugbesan, Hamdalat Tolani among others were brought into the centre for the celebrations. Expectedly, the atmosphere became frenzied as the children intuitively played with toys just as their parents were emotional as they gave their testimonies. The least period of waiting among the lucky parents was 15 years after marriage. The parents domiciled in Bauchi and Lagos states and Kishi, in Oyo state.
Speaking at the event, the IVF coordinator of the UITH Dr Omokanye said IVF at present constitutes over five million live births globally, expressing his joy that the hospital has joined the league of the contributors to the number. Besides, he said the event has afforded the unit the opportunity to follow up the babies as they grow, “with an intent to convince everyone that IVF/ICSI babies are not different from babies conceived through natural means.”
Omokanye while going the memory lane said the lucky parents had sought fertility consultations at the centre on account of infertility spanning several years and when all hope seemed lost due to the advanced age brackets of the couples.
“Many of them had had several fertility treatments to no avail just as they had countless number of tests and operations without any chance of conception until we placed them on IVF procedures before fertilisation could occur.”
Just as the joy has been restored in many homes through this procedure Olatinwo canvassed more of public and private synergies so that the happiness could spread to more families especially those considered poor, under the indices of the present global economic recession.