Channel NewsAsia

UAE attracts couples seeking infertility treatment

UAE meets all the requirements to set up a world class infertility treatment laboratory, which is why thousands of couples choose it as a destination to support them in their quest for parenthood. 

DUBAI: Having a baby is a life-defining moment for every new parent but the path to parenthood is not always easy.

Almost 50 million couples around the globe are struggling with infertility, with an estimated one in six couples in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) having trouble conceiving.

As an Islamic country governed by Sharia law, infertility treatment has traditionally been considered a taboo subject, but this is changing.

Winarni and George have spent many anxious hours in the waiting room of the Conceive Fertility Clinic in Dubai.

When they married a year ago, they could not have imagined the emotional ride that lay ahead of them.

Winarni said: “The first time we came here, from the moment that the doctor explained to us, we thought that it wasn’t going to be this complicated -- but in fact, it is.”

Winarni cannot conceive naturally because her fallopian tubes are blocked. She's not alone -- as many as one in six couples in the world face infertility problems.

For the last two months, Winarni and George have been coming regularly to the clinic so that Winarni can receive the hormonal injections she needs to prepare her body for in vitro fertilisation (IVF).

George said: “It’s quite complicated to be honest, but it’s a lot shorter than what I thought it was going to be. I thought it would take a couple of months, but it’s been quite short, really, I think.”

25 years ago, the government of Dubai invited specialist fertility doctor Pankaj Shrivastav to be part of a team to establish the UAE's first ever fertility unit in Dubai.

More than 5,000 babies have been born there. Hopeful parents come from around the world, placing their faith in Dr Shrivastav and his team.

Dr Shrivastav, now director of Conceive Fertility Clinic, said: “I remember there was one time where this girl who tried five or six times in Nigeria and the UK and hadn’t been pregnant, got pregnant.

“And really, you know, after that, there was an influx of people from Nigeria, we would see two or three couples almost every week from Nigeria.”

More and more patients from Asia are also seeking Dr Shrivastav's help.

The UAE is an attractive prospect for Asian patients, who seek the same quality of services found in Europe and the United States at a fraction of the cost.

Ziad Makhzoumi, CEO of Fakih Medical Group, said: “It’s an incredible market, the growth is phenomenal. We have grown last year over 200 per cent, our number of staff has grown 100 per cent, but our revenue has substantially grown and we have opened new centres.”

In the next few years the IVF market is expected to grow by 20 per cent in the Asia Pacific region, ensuring the UAE carves out its niche in the lucrative medical tourism industry and more couples like Winarni and George can have the babies they so desperately want.

UAE meets all the requirements to set up a world class infertility treatment laboratory, and that is why thousands of couples choose it as a destination to support them in their quest for parenthood. 

Tweet photos, videos and updates on this story to  @channelnewsasia