After eradicating it’s backward One Child policy in October 2015, China has opened up opportunities for those wishing to undergo IVF treatment. For a country that has historically enforced strict guidelines particularly in Beijing; this is the first time in history that people have been able to select the gender of their baby; spend less time in queues and provide less documentation (such as a birth certificate or identification of marriage).
The nation that once disallowed single women from undertaking IVF are now the largest market utilising this service. There has been a 50 per cent jump in consultations at clinics such as Nanfang in China’s southern Guangdong. The negative consequences of this new freedom means an influx of people and excess pressure on already-crowded state-run hospitals.
On the upper hand, more health centres are being built in The United States, Australia, Thailand and Vietnam; to somewhat balance out this problem. These countries allow for surrogacy and gender selection, something China doesn’t allow domestically.
In China, there aren’t many private firms that can operate IVF clinics in the country; unlike Australia that allows non-commercial surrogacy. There have however been unregulated providers; that have been able to create loop holes and advertise offers on social media, without being detected. This is something surprising for China that heavily controls its social media channels. Comparatively, Thailand has been cracking down on both practices to close loopholes that have lured patients from overseas.
There were nearly half a million treatment “cycles” in 2013 at 356 approved clinics. Australia-based Monash IVF Group and Virtus Health and Superior A.R.T. in Thailand have opened their doors to patients; largely from China, amounting to some 30-40 percent. IVF Australia is pandering to the booming Chinese by using terminology such as “cutting-edge technology” to help parents “achieve their dream of having a child”.
The barrier to IVF, of course, is the financial burden. IVF treatment does not allow you to take out state insurance; it’s all out of pocket which is a barrier for poorer provinces who have few clinics. The treatment generally starts at 30,000 yuan ($A6,104). Interestingly, the major market is younger women who are traditionally wired to choose a boy.
Jason Spittle, global director of training at US medical device maker Cook Medical said “China is set to be the biggest IVF market in the world, probably within the next couple of years” (News Corp)
It sure will be interesting to see how the IVF situation in China will pan out.