'Med aids must help childless couples'

19 February 2015 - 02:23 By Nivashni Nair
Image: Gallo Images/ Thinkstock

Four years ago, Shamlin and Denise Chetty said they would "cut their losses and move on" after three unsuccessful invitro fertilisation treatments that cost them almost R86000.

But today, the mechanic and the nurse continue in their quest for a child and have secured two personal loans, totalling more than R300000, over the past four years to pay for fertility treatment.

Last year, South African couples spent R324-million on fertility treatment.

Cape Fertility Clinic specialist Paul le Roux estimated that nearly 8100 IVF treatments, each at an average cost of R40000, took place last year.

The cost has increased by about R5000 per cycle this year.

Infertility, which is being highlighted this Reproductive Health Month, affects one in six South African couples.

Le Roux said the number of patients seeking fertility treatment had increased due to greater awareness, male infertility and women trying to conceive over the age of 37.

Jason Sive, chief executive of First Health Finance, which funds couples who want to conceive, said his company received applications for close to R40-million to fund fertility treatment last year.

The average age of applicants was 32, and most were from Gauteng.

The Infertility Awareness Association of South Africa said medical aid schemes should stop "putting their heads in the sand regarding infertility being classed as a disease".

Spokeswoman Saskia Williams said: "Medical aids only contribute towards the assessment couples undergo to obtain a definitive diagnosis. They do not contribute towards fertility treatment at all.

"While Infertility Awareness recognises the need for medical schemes to manage their funds, this cannot be done by excluding the treatment of a prescribed minimum benefits disease. Infertility affects all areas of a couple's life and medical aids should assist."

Denise Chetty said: "We don't want to regret not trying every treatment option available to us. At some point, if we are not successful, we'll have to accept it is not meant to be, but for now we will continue."