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Saigon Hospital Resumes Program to Provide Free IVF Treatment for 60 Couples

The Ươm Mầm Hạnh Phúc (Nurturing Happiness) program will cover the costs for in vitro fertilization (IVF) for 60 qualified married couples at My Duc Hospital in Saigon.

Participating couples must meet certain criteria, including not having any previous children or sexually transmitted diseases and receiving recommendations from an IVF doctor. The wife must be 37 years old or younger and have a normal reproductive system, while the husband's sperm must have at least an average sperm count. Interested couples can apply via the program's website or Facebook page

Since its founding in 2014, 220 couples have participated in Ươm Mầm Hạnh Phúc, and last year 20 out of 60 became pregnant. To date, it has raised approximately VND5.4 billion (US$232,962) from hospital staff, donors, and wealthy individuals who have had successful IVF procedures and want others to have the same opportunity. The money covers all procedures through the first several weeks of pregnancy.

Nguyễn Thị Ngọc Phượng, oftentimes referred to as the "godmother of fertility" in Vietnam, notes that the program is needed to assist Vietnam's lower-income population. “The cost for IVF [in Vietnam], which is actually lower than in many other countries, is higher than their income," she explains. Phượng, the former director of Tu Du Hospital of Obstetrics and Gynecology, is a pioneer in IVF treatment in Vietnam.

The problem is exacerbated by social stigmas that reduce the chances that family members will lend money for the treatment and, unlike in some western nations, public insurance does not cover IVF procedures. Phượng noted that the pressure to have a child can result in self-esteem issues and marital strife if a couple cannot conceive naturally. 

Vietnam has been performing IVF procedures since the 1990s and now boasts a success rate of over 50% at a lower cost than many other nations. This has led to foreigners traveling to Vietnam for procedure and Vietnam becoming an important source of knowledge and training for international doctors.

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