In a campaign rhetoric dominated by caste, quota, ‘appeasement politics’ and competitive promises on welfare schemes, a small pledge made in the Congress manifesto in Rajasthan could go a long way in fulfilling the parenthood dreams of thousands of couples.
The party, in its manifesto released Tuesday, announced to include in-vitro fertilization (IVF) under the Mukhyamantri Nishulk Chiranjeevi Swasthya Bima Yojana, with the amount for the scheme doubled from Rs 25 lakh to Rs 50 lakh.
A popular assisted reproductive technology for couples struggling with infertility, IVF has largely remained restricted to couples who are financially well-off or stable. The insurance cover for IVF, if implemented, could make the fertility treatment accessible to childless couples who are unable to afford it due to its prohibitive costs. The cost of IVF treatment in Rajasthan can range from Rs 90,000 to Rs 2 lakh per cycle. But, the overall cost can vary, depending on several factors, including the type of IVF procedure used, the clinic’s location, the expertise of the specialist and the number of cycles required.
“We see around 10 per cent of the couples abandoning the IVF procedure owing to the expenses involved. It will be a big blessing for them if the government can implement it properly. Since no insurance company, government or private, currently covers IVF, salaried couples can now consider opting for the treatment under the state scheme,” said Dr Priyanka Yadav, consultant at Birla Fertility and IVF in Jaipur.
Medical experts said talking of IVF in a political manifesto was also an indication that there was an acceptance towards treating infertility as a medical condition rather than considering it a stigma. “This is a welcoming sign. In Rajasthan, women get married at early age and yet, we see the fertility rate going down. It is kind of a disease that happens owing to multiple reasons. With this initiative, the cost of IVF treatment may also come down,” said Dr Aruna Kalra of the department of gynaecology and obstetrics at CK Birla Hospital.
“It is a good thing that political parties are talking about it. This will help people break the stigma and accept that infertility can be treated,” noted Chhaya Pachauli, state coordinator, Jan Swasthya Abhiyaan. Chhaya, however, cautioned that the government “needs to ensure it is not exploited by hospitals”.