Nearly two years after Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) opened voluntary registrations for Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) clinics, 185 clinics across the country have been “confirmed as ART clinics” by the institution that falls under the Union Health Ministry.
Of these 185, 30 are in the capital — the highest in a single city. It is followed by Mumbai at at 28 clinics.
Among states, Maharashtra has the highest registrations at 42 clinics.
The National Registry of ART clinics and banks in India was started by the reproductive medicine department of ICMR in June 2012. The registration is still a voluntary process as the ART bill of 2010, which makes registration of clinics mandatory, is still to be cleared by Parliament.
According to the draft bill, clinics which are engaged in the practice of any of the 12 enumerated techniques can be registered as ART clinics.
These techniques include artificial insemination with husband’s semen (AIH), artificial insemination with donor semen (AID), intra-uterine insemination using husband’s semen (IUI-H), intra-uterine insemination using donor semen (IUI-D), in-vitro fertilization embryo transfer (IVF), intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) and processing or storage of gametes (sperm and oocyte) and/or embryos, among others.
“Clinics have to fill our standard performa in the registration form detailing the technique of ART they are providing, the kind of facilities and manpower they have and their qualifications. Other details required include their PNDT certificate, whether they have applied for registration under the Clinical Establishments Bill and if they have any international affiliations,” a senior ICMR official said.
This information is verified by ICMR authorities after which a registration number is given to the respective clinic, the official said.
“The expert committee of the ICMR is now visiting these clinics and verifying their quality standards. Meanwhile, we have confirmed them as ART clinics on the basis of information submitted in their forms. If the quality standards are found lacking, this will be withdrawn till they improve the lacunae,” the official said.
Officials said the response has not been as expected.
“Thousands of clinics have mushroomed not only in the metros, but also in tier-2 cities. According to our estimates, a city like Mumbai alone should have at least 10,000 clinics. Delhi should have around 7-8,000 clinics. Since the registration is still voluntary, many clinics have not come forward yet,” the official said.
Government institutions such as AIIMS and Lok Nayak hospital in Delhi, some of the only ART centres in the government sector, have also applied and registered.
“Clinics in hospital set ups in the private sector have also applied. Standalone IVF clinics have not been as responsive,” the official said.
Deputy Director General of ICMR’s Reproductive medicine division, Dr R S Sharma said the registrations had been started before the passage of the Bill to ensure that ICMR had a database of clinics. “After we have a network of all these establishments providing ART services, we will be asking for data of successful conceptions and deliveries, and adverse reactions if any, to bring transparency in the IVF market,”Dr Sharma said.