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Regulation of assisted reproductive technology (ART) in Nigeria

 Assisted Conception Unit, University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital, Port Harcourt, Rivers state, Nigeria

Date of Submission18-Jun-2022
Date of Acceptance21-Jun-2022
Date of Web Publication05-Aug-2022

Correspondence Address:
Preye Owen Fiebai,
Assisted Conception Unit, University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital Port Harcourt
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ajiac.ajiac_9_22

How to cite this URL:
Fiebai PO, Green K. Regulation of assisted reproductive technology (ART) in Nigeria. Afr J Infertil Assist Concept [Epub ahead of print] [cited 2023 Feb 1]. Available from: https://www.afrijiac.org/preprintarticle.asp?id=353510

The ninth Annual Scientific Conference of the Association for Fertility and Reproductive Health (AFRH) that held in Port Harcourt from 18–20 September 2019 had as it’s theme, “Challenges with Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) in sub-Saharan Africa,” and “The Future of ART in Developing Countries” as its sub theme. Regulation is one of the challenges with ART in the region and this is key to its future in Nigeria. Since the first birth from in-vitro fertilization (IVF) in the United Kingdom in 1978, most countries in which ART is established have laws or regulations guiding its practice.[1] This is essential for the protection of the patient, children born after conception through ART procedures and ART practitioners.

The first reported ART birth in Nigeria resulted from the pioneering efforts of Emeritus Professor Osato Giwa-Osagie and Professor Oladapo Ashiru at the College of Medicine, University of Lagos in 1989. Since then, the practice has grown in leaps and bounds with registered and unregistered providers spread across the country. In spite of the high cost of setting up facilities, there has been a steady growth of ART service centers in Nigeria. Currently there are about 50 registered ART service providing centers in Nigeria, with 24 of these in the Lagos metropolitan area. There are, in addition, a large number of unregistered ART centers in Nigeria with its attendant problems of quackery in many parts of the nation.[2],[3]

ART is subject to ethical and moral challenges and the need for regulation cannot be overemphasized. Ethics in medicine refers to the applied moral values and judgments as they pertain to the art of medical practice.[4],[5] Dr. Richardson Ajayi’s article in this volume on “Enforcement of In Vitro Fertilization Standards among ART Practitioners in Nigeria” addresses ethical issues in detail and much more.

Medical practice in Nigeria is regulated by the National Health Act of 2014 which has little content related to ART. The Code of Medical Ethics in Nigeria is complementary to the Act and deals with ethical issues related to the medical practitioner. Medical, dental and alternative medicine practitioners are regulated by the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN), a Federal Government Agency which is saddled with the responsibility of registraItion and certification of all such practitioners in the country. Federal medical centers and federal teaching hospitals are supervised by the Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH) while other health facilities are regulated by the states in which they are domiciled with variation in the level of supervision across the country. The Ministry of Health (MOH) in each of the 36 states of Nigeria and the Federal Capital Territory exercise oversight functions over health facilities in their respective jurisdictions. Each MOH has minimal requirements for establishment of health facilities ranging from out-patient clinics to multi-specialty hospitals. It would be desirable to have a National policy / regulation for ART which would apply to all states in the country.

Unfortunately, regulation of ART in Nigeria is largely non-existent, thus clinics practice and offer services arbitrarily. In a bid to self-regulate, AFRH developed practice guidelines and minimum standards for ART which all member clinics are expected to adhere to. Following this, Lagos State Government in collaboration with AFRH, unveiled guidelines to regulate ART in the state in May 2019.[6] This is the only state in Nigeria that has taken active steps to ensure that the process is safe and effective. Kudos must be given to LASG and AFRH and other collaborating bodies and it is hoped that this standard will be replicated in all states of Nigeria. This will ensure that patients are protected and quackery is eliminated from the practice of ART in Nigeria.

Financial support and sponsorship

Not applicable.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

Ekechi-Agwu CA, Nwafor AO. Regulating assisted reproductive technologies (ART) in Nigeria: Lessons from Australia and the United Kingdom. Afr J Reprod Health 2020;24:82-93.  Back to cited text no. 1
Onuoha FC. The evolving menace of baby factories and trafficking in Nigeria. African Secur Rev 2014;23:405-11.  Back to cited text no. 2
Makinde OA, Olaleye O, Makinde OO, Huntley SS, Brown B. Baby factories in Nigeria: Starting the discussion toward a national prevention policy. Trauma Violence Abuse 2017;18:98-105.  Back to cited text no. 3
Schwartz L, Preece PE, Hendry RA. Medical Ethics: A Case-Based Approach. Philadelphia: WB Saunders; 2002. p. 204.  Back to cited text no. 4
Jackson JC. Ethics in Medicine. Cambridge: Polity Press; 2006: p. 232.  Back to cited text no. 5
Lagos State Government. LASG unveils guidelines to regulate assisted reproductive technology. [Internet]. Lagos: Available from: https://lagosstate.gov.ng/blog/2019/05/09/lasg-unveils-guidelines-to regulate-assisted-reproductive-technology. [Last accessed on 2021 Nov 19].  Back to cited text no. 6


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