First African baby born using low-cost IVF developed in Genk

Summary

A method developed in Flanders makes IVF treatment possible for a fraction of the normal cost and is aimed primarily at couples in developing countries

Success story

The first baby has been born in Africa using a low-cost IVF method developed in Genk. The method, developed by Willem Ombelet and his team at the East Limburg Hospital, has already resulted in 89 babies in Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany. Baby Kwadwo in Ghana is their first success in Africa.

The technique makes IVF treatment possible at 5% of the regular price and was developed to make fertility treatment more financially accessible, especially for couples in developing countries. It costs about €200 instead of the normal €4,000 and is carried out using simpler materials, without the need for advanced lab equipment.

“For women in developing countries, infertility often means they face the risk of being abandoned by their husband and family,” Ombelet told Het Belang van Limburg. “For many couples there, the chance of a dignified old age often depends on having children.”

The project is supported by The Walking Egg, an international non-profit founded in Flanders that offers more couples in developing countries access to fertility care.

The technique can also help couples in Western countries, Ombelet said. “Many families don’t have the financial capacities to afford traditional IVF treatment.”

Doctors in Portugal have already started using the method, and there is interest in the US, UK, Egypt, China and India.

Photo courtesy HBVL