The COVID-19 pandemic has grounded all sectors and everyone is thinking and planning survival. However, some others are also thinking about how to make life better for other people while the pandemic is still on and even after it. This accurately describes what a renowned fertility outfit, Nordica Fertility Centre headed by Dr Abayomi Ajayi is doing for Nigerians. The economy is hard and people are looking for what to eat but within this hardship, Nordica has thought outside the box to make life better for Nigerians who have fertility issues. There is doubt that Nordica has been completing the family cycle for many years now and they are determined not to allow COVID-19 stop the good works.
As a quick response to the COVID-19 Pandemic which has taken the world by surprise, Nordica Fertility Centre has announced easy payment plans for couples with fertility challenges across Nigeria. Dr Abayomi who introduced the Nordica Flex Pay Plan and Nordica exclusive as the company’s direct response to the COVID-19 pandemic also said that the payment plans were designed to help couples pay IVF fee conveniently and at their own pace.
He further explained that the Nordica Flex Pay Plan is a package designed to help couples pay for IVF over a period of 12 months. According to him, embarking on IVF treatment is more affordable in Nigeria than any other country in the world and we can safely say that the treatments available are comparable to some of the high profile clinics anywhere in the world
“To help many more couples access fertility treatment, we at Nordica have introduced our Flex Pay Plan which is an instalment payment plan which allows couples to save towards having a baby of their own. “The flex pay plan will allow couples to set a target for themselves, while they are on the plan, they will have access to some of our premium services leading up to the final treatment required. Speaking further on the Nordica Exclusive, Dr Abayomi reiterated that this plan was made for couples who would like to travel abroad for IVF treatment but cannot do so due to the lockdown and travel ban enforced as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic. “This product is our response to our extremely confidentiality-focused clients who may have opted for their treatment abroad. In the face of travel restrictions and the hazards of COVID-19, seeing a premium local alternative that offers a flexible appointment only service, with the aim of giving personalized services cannot be overlooked.” These and several other fertility health issues related to COVID-19 were what Dr Abayomi talked about when City People’s DAMILARE SALAMI (08155134152) took him up on Zoom, enjoy.
Are These Plans targeted at specific clients?
Thank you, of course, we had some people in mind while we were coming up with these plans. Of a truth, we were just responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. Anybody can pick up any plan but we had some people in mind while we were coming up with the idea. For example, we know that some people can probably not come up with a lump sum money for the IVF treatment but they can probably save in one year for it. So those are the people the Flex Pay Plan are designed for. The second group of people are people who would have particularly gone abroad for the IVF treatment. Why do people go abroad? We have discovered that people travel for IVF treatments not necessarily because of the standard of the care now in IVF but because they want confidentiality. And so we want to give them that confidentiality even in their own country. So, they can come to the clinic without meeting anybody because when we are serving you, it means we are serving only you and there is no risk that you are going to meet anybody at the clinic. In other words, we are looking at the whole economic ladder and go down the whole value chain and provide services for them.
There is no doubt that we can’t shy away from prices especially at this difficult time. What does it cost if a couple wants to enrol for the Flex pay plan and what will the Exclusive cost another couple?
Well, we are not changing the cost of IVF itself either for Flex or exclusive packages. What we are doing with Flex is allowing flexibility in the payment of IVF for anyone interested. For the exclusive, what we are doing is to charge professional fees and so the cost of the IVF itself is the same for everybody but the Exclusive has a professional fee attached.
Are there any conditions that could make a couple not to qualify for either of the plans?
Almost any couple can qualify for either of the plans. For example, if you are looking at the Flex, you could be looking at a single or multiple cycle offers. One thing that we look at very importantly is the decisions couples make. If new see that the decisions you are making are not likely to yield results, we may probably not allow you take up the plan. Everybody may like to be on it but for some, we might be able to say no. That’s why in the instructions we already noted that we have the right to admit or reject anybody. We can say this decision is not likely to do well, therefore, we don’t want the couple. But if you want to enrol as a regular patient, we may admit you but let you know the implication of the decision you are making. And if you think you still want to give it a shot, we let it go on as long as it’s nothing illegal.
Can the Flex Payment Plan extend beyond a year?
For now, that’s what we have pegged it at. We know what can happen even within six months and that’s why we want to leave it at that for the time being. There could be a review later but right now, it’s a year plan.
What happens if a couple wants to discontinue the Flexi Pay Plan may be after one or two cycles?
Yes, anyone can opt-out at any time but if you want to do that before the end of the plan, you are going to pay a charge of N100 thousand and give you the refund.
What are your expectations for this initiative, how many couples are you expecting to take up either plan in the next one year?
I wish I knew… The fact is that we are just trying to help more families become complete. We are not saying that the regular people should not come in. What we are doing is to increase the scope. The people who probably have one flow of income which is their salary can plan towards having an IVF treatment, that’s Flex pay. But this also depends on the age of the woman. If you already 39, probably Flex pay and that probably is dependent on the questions that the lady asks. One of the things we want to encourage also with Flex pay is multiple cycles because we know that the success rates if IVF increases with the number of cycles that you do. So really and truly, we are trying to see how we can increase the number of cycles that people can do so that you don’t say you want to do one cycle for a whole year and if it fails you want to wait for another full year for another cycle; that might be counter-productive. Probably if you say for two cycles may be it will be better off but for some people, that would probably be the best they can do. What we are trying to do is to increase the scope for those people who will not be able to put the lump sum down and at the same time cater to those people who can also be able to put the cheque down for 10 cycles but who normally don’t stay in Nigeria because of confidentiality issues. They don’t have to travel anywhere. They can have the same care and treatment in the comfort of their country.
Sir, what are the rules guiding couples who would like to enrol for either of the two plans?
Well, there are no rules per se. the only thing is that we expect that if you have decided to take up the Flex plans for example and you have decided that you are going to be paying a certain amount monthly, we expect you to be faithful to it for you to continue because if you don’t pay up, we may not be able to go on. But if you are paying whatever we have agreed to pay, then that’s good. This initiative also does not affect the surgical part of your treatment. For example, if you need a Hysteroscopy, so the bills for surgical operations are different from the main bill. For the exclusive as well, the bills for the surgical operations are different.
When is the offer kicking off?
Is there a discount for anyone after a failed cycle?
Yes, there is a discount but what we are trying to encourage is multiple cycles instead of single cycles because most people will need a more than one. And if you get pregnant after the first cycle, you can get a refund because our experience has shown that between a failed cycle and the period the couple comes back, there is usually a lag and that lag affects the success rate and we are trying to see how we can shorten it. We know we can’t shorten it for everybody but we can for some people, especially those whose lag is due to finances. The second reason for the lag is always psychological readiness and we have the attitude for that too. We can always help you with it. What you need is a lot of counselling and we have counsellors, fertility coaches and every other support you need. So this is what these are all about.
What is the minimum deposit a couple can pay before a couple can start treatment?
It depends, for example for Flex, if you are taking only one cycle, you have to complete your payment before treatment can start but if you are taking two cycles, you must have completed 75 per cent before the first treatment can commence and if you are doing three cycles, you must have made at least 50 per cent of the total payment before the treatment for the first cycle can commence. For exclusive, you should have paid at least 75 per cent before treatments can start.
I read an article that talked about COVID-19 vaccines causing infertility after cure. As a fertility expert sir, do you think that there will ever be a vaccine for COVID-19 that can lead to infertility?
Right now, there is no vaccine that has been approved, so every vaccine is still at the clinical stage. I’m sure one of the things they will look out for before approving a vaccine is whether it can affect fertility. I think we already have enough problems to combat so nobody would one to bring any vaccine that will affect fertility as an addition to what we are already facing. So I don’t know anything about that and like I keep saying about COVID, we need to be careful because we still know very little about it especially when it comes to vaccines. Everybody is running around for vaccines and we don’t know which one will be finally approved but right now there is none that has gotten to the stage where it can be used so I don’t know about vaccines that can cause infertility really.
Are there specific effects of COVID-19 that can lead to infertility?
Well, you know COVID-19 is a sort of generalized disease that affects almost every system of the body and that’s why we say when it comes to this disease, prevention is rather better than cure. You don’t get it at all because when you do, so many things can be affected. We see people who are surviving COVID-19 now but we don’t even know what its effects will be on their health later on. But if you talk about COVID affecting reproduction, there is no fear about that. Sometimes we have to be careful when we are talking about COVID-19 because we don’t know much about it yet. It is just about 5 months with us now. What we know so far is that it is not genetic so you can’t pass it to children. It is safe to have fertility treatments for now. So it’s not as if it affects your fertility treatments so far all the safety precautions are in place. And I think right now we have not done badly at that even in Nigeria.