Dr. Elke Klerkx of the Genk Institute for Fertility Technology in Belgium said women in developing countries who are infertile suffer a huge personal stigma and can be disinherited, abused, ostracized and abandoned.
Despite a record of 5 million IVF babies born in the world, the treatment of infertility by effective methods remains largely in developed countries, Klerkx said.
"Infertility care is probably the most neglected healthcare problem of developing countries, affecting more than 2 million couples according to the World Health Organization," Klerkx said in a statement. "We showed that the IVF methodology can be significantly simplified and result in successful outcomes at levels that compare favorably to those obtained in high resource programs."
The low cost IVF system method was based on an embryo culture method which removed the need for an expensive IVF laboratory with carbon dioxide incubators, medical gas supply and air purification systems. Outcomes from the low-cost culture method compared with those from a conventional IVF culture system were similar, Klerkx said.
"In developed countries the cost of setting-up a high-quality IVF lab is between about $2 million to $4 million but we would expect to set up a low-cost lab for less than $386,000," Klerkx said.
Klerkx presented the findings as the annual meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction Embryology in London.