Public-Private Partnership Targets Infertility in Russia
For couples considering IVF treatment, a new health education program offers the chance to get timely and reliable information.
Published: March 13, 2013 (Issue # 1750)
The launch of the IVF School initiative brought members of Russia’s scientific community together to combat infertility.
With 15 percent of Russian couples experiencing problems of infertility, and in face of the country’s looming demographic crisis, healthcare providers are seeking opportunities to offer wider access to in vitro fertilization programs, or IVF therapy.
A new step forward toward encouraging an increase in births has been made with a free federal information and educational program called IVF School, which was launched in Russia in January this year.
The unique program is based on modern communication methods and allows participants to regularly receive dependable and timely information on IVF via mobile phone and e-mail, to attend live and online seminars, and to have questions answered by leading specialists in the field of reproductive health. A social media component of the program allows the community to share their experiences with those who are interested in IVF.
It is estimated that 1.7 million Russians are candidates for treatment with Assisted Reproductive Technology, or ART, which becomes extremely significant as the country experiences a demographic decline. The population has shrunk from 146 million to 143 million in the past decade.
Professor Leila Adamyan, a leading specialist on Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Russian Health Ministry, said IVF has become not only a high-tech treatment tool in Russia but also “a legal way for improving demographics in the country.” Adamyan said that IVF School, supported by the Russian Health Ministry, would help to make such information more accessible to patients.
Currently in Russia there are 150 IVF clinics, while ten years ago there were no more than 40. These figures indicate the increasing demand for such services. However, far from all Russian couples experiencing fertility issues have access to the latest IVF therapy.
Reasons for this include a lack of information on the issue and people waiting too long before seeking assistance from ART clinics. According to experts, being over the age of 38 significantly decreases the effectiveness of ART treatment, while after 42 the chance of success is no more than 7 to 10 percent. As a result, reproductive health experts recommend that couples do not delay in seeking out a specialized ART center after a year of fruitless attempts to conceive.
Another reason for limited access to IVF procedures for Russian families is the high cost of participation in ART programs. Repeated attempts to conceive using ART are expensive, and those couples residing in small towns may have to travel a long way to reach the nearest IVF center, adding both expense and stress.
One way of addressing the problem is through the use of online and SMS information services, which may offer a cost-effective option for getting essential information.
IVF School, which has become Russia’s first public-private partnership in the area of reproductive health, was developed by Russia’s Health and Development Foundation, the Kulakov Scientific Center of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Perinatology and MSD, a Russian branch of American pharmaceutical giant Merck & Co.
Patients considering IVF treatment who are interested in participating in the new education program, can register on the www.ivfschool.ru website, or send an SMS with the word (ÅÊÎ) to the number 5253. This provides free access to all of the modules of the IVF School programs, including SMS alerts that will offer information about the most important aspects of IVF at all stages of treatment.