For the first time in Nepal, there is a test-tube baby project, with 19 women on board. The process was started by Dr Uma Srivastav of the Nisantan Clinic in Putali Sadak. According to Srivastav, 35 women keen to deliver test tube babies contacted the clinic when they heard about the possibility. In the first phase, 19 out of the 20 women fit to undergo treatment were selected. At present, 15 percent of married couples in Nepal do not have children, and the technology has been introduced in Nepal for their benefit. It's been eight years since experts have been trying to introduce in vitro fertilisation technology in Nepal with the help of the private sector. Nepali couples have until now have been going to India for the treatment-an expensive undertaking.
The women were first administered injections to develop their ovaries. They were divided into two groups: those who have to take injections 21 days prior to the start of their period and those who began taking injections on the second day of menstruation. "Since you have to take injections until the eggs are formed, it can be pretty expensive," says Srivastav. One injection costs about Rs 1,700. As there is only one company registered to manufacture such injections, the drug is in short supply. The other expensive part of the procedure is having repeated ultrasounds and hormone checks. About 30 percent of the women who undergo the process are able to have babies. It is mostly upper class and middle class families who come for treatment. Srivastav says she's treated about 800 childless couples before introducing the technology in Nepal. She feels the government should subsidise the equipment necessary to help childless couples, though she is often accused of helping add to Nepal's already large population. Men appear more eager than women too, but they tend to be shy about having their 'masculinity' tested. People have even asked her to find a sperm donors who bear a resemblance to the couple and are of the same caste. A semen bank has been established and the centre arranges for sperm donations.