Kenya’s first test tube babies were born in May 2006, thanks to Dr Joshua Noreh, an obstetrician and gynaecologist. That was 28 years after the birth of the world’s first test tube baby – Louise Brown – in Oldham, United Kingdom.
The two girls were born at Avenue Hospital in Parklands, Nairobi and are now teenagers after celebrating their 16th birthday his May.
One of the new fathers whose wife had struggled for a baby since 1996 told Dr Noreh: “I am ready to give you anything you ask for,” the BBC reported at the time.
“This is the moment I have always waited for,” said the mother. “For the first time in my life, I feel a great sense of relief and hope.”
After their birth, another seven test tube babies were on the way, and since then, tens of women with fertility issues in Kenya have gone on to have children.
Over 2000 test tube babies have since been delivered in Kenya at Dr Noreh’s clinic where clients come from around the world. Over 400 were delivered via IVF at the clinic in 2015 alone.
Before then, Kenyan women with infertility issues were condemned to their childless fates and the attendant psychological anguish and social stigma. The moneyed had to travel overseas for IVF treatment.
Dr Noreh said at the time: “We don’t focus on financial benefits but our success has been to fulfill the dreams of thousands of people (married and single) to have a family and this is the biggest thing we have been proud of.”
In Kenya, infertility affects between 10 and 20 percent of reproductive-age adults, according to the Kenya Obstetrical and Gynaecological Society (KOGS), but since Dr Noreh’s successful In-Vitro Fertilisation (IVF), the demand has grown.
Though there is no data on the number of IVF cycles in Kenya as procedures are done by private clinics, Dr Kireki Omanwa, the KOGS president, estimates that about 2,000 IVF cycles are done in Kenya annually and in another few years numbers are likely to be even higher.
From one IVF clinic in 2006, there are 11 IVF centres in Kenya – all of them privately owned. “One is in Mombasa, another in Eldoret, and the rest in Nairobi,” says Dr Omanwa pegging the average cost of an IVF cycle at between Sh500, 000 and Sh700,000, but way lower than the millions it cost to seek treatment abroad.
Dr Noreh said providing quality IVF services at an affordable cost is another source of pride as it has helped many people to fulfill their dreams of having a family.
Then there is Dr Ahmed Yousef, a consultant urologist at Aga Khan University Hospital, Nairobi. He made history by performing a penile implant procedure to treat erectile dysfunction, a first in East and Central Africa.
The patient, in his 40s, had been suffering from erectile dysfunction, and the surgery which involves implanting a prosthesis device in the penis solved the problem.
“The man can have intercourse anytime without using medication,” explained Dr Yousef, the lead surgeon for the procedure.
After tests including a penile doppler ultrasound, Dr Yousef noted that the patient, had severe venous leakage erectile dysfunction which was treated using the surgery and if he had an issue with premature ejaculation, it would also be treated by this procedure.
The procedure gives hope to 15 to 20 per cent of men with erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation.