While many Nigerian elites are still grappling with infertility, their quest for exclusivity, time flexibility and high quality treatment has often spurred them towards accessing healthcare abroad. But Nordica Fertility Centre hopes to change the narrative, especially as international travel restriction caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has prevented many elite couples from travelling for the reproductive assisted technology in their chosen high classed clinics. Martins Ifijeh writes
For decades, Nigerian elites and Very Important Persons (VIPs) have often accessed medical treatments abroad because of the quality of care they receive in these developed nations and the confidentiality that come with having their medical histories protected from the public.
But since March 2020, these classes of Nigerians are trapped, restricted and unable to travel. No thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic that has forced every nation to close its borders against visitors, including those who require medical attention. For some elites, they have been deprived from accessing surgical procedures they otherwise believed couldn’t be done in Nigeria. Others may have lost their lives because of lack of the sophistications needed for their treatments. There are also those who may have planned to access fertility treatments abroad as it is believed success rates for Assisted Reproductive Technology over there are far higher than what obtains in Nigeria.
Dr. and Mrs. Ireine (not real name), are two among thousands of Nigerian couples that had planned they would access fertility treatment abroad this year so they could have a child to call their own. They had been married for over 10 years without a successful pregnancy that has led to childbirth.
The Ireines had started the process of ART in 2019 when they first travelled to the United Kingdom for help, but the first cycle of treatment unfortunately failed, paving way for their supposed visit to the country again in April this year; an arrangement that never happened as international airspace, both in Nigeria and the UK were closed.
Dr. Ireine is a geologist working with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), while his wife is a top management staff of one of the new generation banks in the country.
“We had settled for three-in-one treatment cycle as advised by our UK doctors, but the COVID-19 pandemic is delaying our second visit, as the first had cycle we went for in 2019 failed. I am eager to access the second cycle because time is running out. It is 10 years since we have been married without the cry of a baby in our home,” she said.
Dr. and Mrs. Ireine are just two among several Nigerian couples who have ignored the country’s healthcare system due to several factors including Nigeria’s poor healthcare system, stereotype that good hospitals and treatment centres do not exist in the country, lack of confidentiality to their hospital records, among others.
To be frank, these reasons have often driven medical tourism abroad, not even for wealthy Nigerians, but also political leaders who perhaps have lost faith in Nigeria’s health system.
These people, who often pay far more for healthcare abroad, have started to feel the bouts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the new decision by many nations to focus more on their citizens rather than open their borders for medical tourists; a decision that appears may stay put for a long time.
While it is no doubt that Nigeria, till date, has not done much to address its healthcare system and build the confidence of its citizens, especially the elites and the VIPs who at every opportunity travel abroad for medical help, there seems to be a deliberate attempt by a private organisation, Nordica Fertility Centre, to address this, at least, in the area of infertility treatment for the category of Nigerians who are particular about quality of care and international standards as seen in developed nations like the United States, UK, Germany, among others.
The fertility Centre, it is believed, has decided to bridge this gap, especially for the class of Nigerians who otherwise travel for infertility treatment, through its newly launched programme, tagged Nordica Xclusive – a premium offer hinged on providing flexible appointments and exclusivity to patients, as well as high level standard of treatment.
It is believed the Nordica Xclusive service deploys state of the art facilities, professionals and treatment patterns as experienced in the best fertility clinics of the world.
Speaking during the launch of the service recently, the Managing Director, Nordica Fertility Centre, Dr Abayomi Ajayi said with international travels suspended as part of measures to curb the COVID-19 pandemic, it was time to look inwards to replicate health services provided in developed nations, adding that this has resulted in the Centre commencing the comprehensive fertility treatment for couples who would otherwise prefer the treatment care in developed nations.
He said: “The Nordica Xclusive product has been specifically designed for VIPs in Nigeria who value their privacy and wants world-class services. These people would ordinarily prefer to have their fertility treatments outside the country to ensure that nobody knows that they are going through treatments. However, because of the restriction in international movements caused by the coronavirus pandemic, they are not able to do this and would be looking for local alternatives that can guarantee high levels of confidentiality and flexibility.
“This product will ensure that money that would have been lost to medical tourism is retained in the country. Already Nordica is promoting medical tourism for Nigeria because of our diaspora clients that come to Nigeria to have fertility treatments with us.”
The fertility expert, whose centre has put smiles on the families of several thousands of couples since its establishment said Nordica Xclusive was a lifestyle proposition designed specifically for a niche segment of the infertile population.
It is believed that Xclusive clients are guaranteed of premium fertility experiences designed to give special services befitting of the couples’ class.
Ajayi said: “Apart from having exclusivity, confidentiality, premium fertility experience, Nigeria’s elite and VIPs who require ART will have access to world-class and seasoned professionals
He said: “The comprehensive fertility treatment is of two categories. The first is known as the Nordica Xclusive Service which serves as a response to extremely confidentiality-focused clients who may have opted for their treatment abroad. The second is the Flex Pay plan designed to help couples who would prefer flexible payments for their treatments.
“Imploring couples to take advantage of the plans to complete their families, Ajayi said the new customer-focused products were the result of engaging with fertility challenged couples, who were pivotal in their development based on insights gathered from them.
He said: “The world class medical service here is much more affordable than what obtains in same high profile clinics abroad. No international flight tickets or accommodation are required. Fertility treatment the world over is a high-cost ticket item. In the USA, the average cost of an IVF cycle has been put between $10,000 to $15,000, for the basic treatment without any add-on treatments and drugs.
“In the UK, the average cost for basic IVF with own eggs can range between £4000 to £9000. While when using donor eggs it can range between £9000 – £12000.”
He added that this will not only curb medical tourism, but will ensure same quality care is provided to couples.