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Sun 31 Aug 2008 10:03 AM

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IVF women seek fertility treatment abroad

Lack of fertility facilities in the UAE force would-be mums to look elsewhere.

Women with fertility problems could be missing out on the chance to have a baby because of a lack of treatment facilities, experts have warned.

Women are increasingly seeking treatment abroad, where they feel better care is offered for less money, and waiting lists are non-existent, according to UAE daily The National.

In vitro fertilisation (IVF) is available at both public and private clinics in six of the emirates.

But in Dubai, the fertility business is more tightly regulated than in the rest of the country. Private clinics are banned from offering IVF to couples, leaving just one government fertility centre that provides the therapy.

And this week, Dubai reiterated its rigid stance when it released a statement advising that any clinics that flouted the rule and offered IVF would be immediately closed down.

“Dubai does not allow treatment in private hospitals and clinics, but I have no idea why they did this,” Aysha al Roomi, from the Health Committee on the Federal National Council told the newspaper.

“The law was meant for all of the UAE and the private and public sectors. Dubai will not allow it in the private sector; I don’t know why.”

Doctors say the restriction can interfere with a woman’s chance of becoming pregnant.

Dr Michael Fakih, who runs the Fakih Gynaecology and Obstetrics private clinic in Dubai, says the services he can offer to women who are having trouble conceiving are limited to hormonal tablets and certain surgical procedures. For IVF, he refers patients to the Government’s clinic.

“I’ve heard that the waiting list can be up to two years. For a woman who’s trying to get pregnant, especially if she is over 35, a long wait for treatment could really reduce her chances.

“It’s absolutely, absolutely frustrating not to be able to treat them. You are taking the most successful procedure away from them.”

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Patient in waiting 12 years ago

Those who can afford to go abroad will surely do so. Its really sad, for those who cannot, since some women bank on IVF as the last resort, being denied the treatment will really be heart-breaking for them. Why this disparity? Why its allowed in govt and private clinics in all other emirates except Dubai? Women don't have the rest of their lives for child bearing, middle aged women are already on a short lease, a long waiting list just adds to their woes. Its like denying the last breathe of air to a dying person, we never know sometimes the last breathe will be the one which brings back the life!