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04 March 2024

Free-of-cost medical treatment for infertility for all Emirati couples

By Majorie van Leijen

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, has launched the ‘Amal’ ('Hope') initiative to provide fertility treatment free of cost to Emirati couples.

The initiative was announced on Wednesday at the DHA headquarters by Essa Al Maidour, Director General of Dubai Health Authority.

The initiative is part of the Dubai Gynaecology and Fertility Centre’s (DGFC) efforts to ensure more women are given medical treatment for infertility without having to worry about the cost which can range between Dh22,000 to Dh26,000.

DHA expects to help 400 to 500 Emirati couples per year, said Al Maidour.

"There are couples who cannot have babies and this can cause great depression. Some of these people cannot afford fertility treatment. We are trying to help these people. Starting a family is an important part of getting settled, especially for young people," said Al Maidour.

“The DGFC is one of the pioneers in infertility treatment in the region and so far 3000 babies have been born through assisted reproductive technology (ART) provided at the centre,” Al Maidour said.

Dr Fatma Musabih, Director of the Dubai Gynecology and Fertility Centre, said:  “Sheikh Mohammed's noble gesture will provide hope to hundreds of Emirati couples who would like to seek treatment for infertility. On an average, per year, we have about 500 to 600 Emirati couples who are treated at the centre.”

The main cause of infertility among Emirati women is Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) and low sperm count for men, said Dr. Awatif Bahar, director at DFGC.

According to a study conducted by the DGFC, more than 60 per cent of the women who consulted the centre with conceiving problems were diagnosed with PCOS. In PCOS, the mature eggs of a woman are not released from the ovaries. Instead, they gather in the ovary and turn into cysts. After a while a chain of cysts or polycysts is formed.

"This can be attributed to lifestyle choices as well as stress," said Dr. Awatif.

Dr Awatif said that the pregnancy rates at the DGFC are at par with international standards. “For patients above 40 years the rate is 45 per cent and for women below 40 years it is 55 per cent.”

Recollecting one of the success stories at the centre, Dr Awatif said: “One of patients came to us and mentioned that she was trying to get pregnant for the last 30 years. Through assisted reproduction technology, she conceived last year and today she has a beautiful and healthy one-year old daughter and is now trying to get pregnant again.”

Dr Awatif  said that the centre is the first in the Middle-East region to test patients for genetic disorders, including Thalassemia and other DNA related diseases.  In addition the centre provides testing and treatment for patients with repeated miscarriages.

"Being overweight is a common problem in the Gulf. Many people do not have a healthy diet. They eat a lot of junk food and gulp down fizzy drinks. Added to that is  lack of physical exercise," said Dr  Mohamad Al Kalyoubi at the DGFC.

The medical treatment will be provided to couples regardless of the cause of infertility, which can lie with the male or the female.

The DGFC centre was established in 1991 and in 2009 the centre relocated to its new premises in Dubai Healthcare City.