After having graduated from Harvard Business School, Dr. Richard Ajayi (OPM 39) and Professors Herbert and Nicolas Zech (OPM 41) have launched cooperation in the field of reproductive medicine.
Dr. Richard Ajayi has pioneered the treatment of involuntary childlessness in Nigeria, where he has been providing fertility treatment for more than 10 years. In recent years, his assisted conception clinic has constantly expanded and he has managed to enlarge the range of medical services in West-, Middle- and East Africa.
Prof. Herbert Zech, looking back on more than 26 years of experience, counts among the internationally renowned personalities from reproductive medicine. Since the IVF Centers Prof. Zech are represented in many European countries, his professional experience includes the different legal requirements in these respective countries. The successful treatment outcome and subsequent births of the first babies following IVF, for instance in Russia (former UdSSR) and Hungary are owed to him. Worldwide, he was the first to adopt ISO standards in the field of reproductive medicine. Together with his team he pioneered many medical innovations and produced numerous papers which were published in high-ranking scientific journals.
Being participants of the Harvard Business School’s Owner/President Management Program (OPM), the three of them have met in Harvard and started discussing the exchange of ideas and the possibility of cooperation. Their intention was to benefit from experience and best practice of both groups involved: Richard in Nigeria who is dealing successfully with African infrastructure challenges on the one hand and Herbert together with his son Nicolas who can look back on years of experience in managing top-level IVF units in several European countries on the other. The fact that quality management is an integral part of success and ongoing training of the employees is essential for achieving the highest possible pregnancy rates (possibly as early as the “first treatment-cycle”) promotes the principle of knowledge-sharing and mutual assistance. Hence, those HBS graduates have launched this very innovative partnership model in order to bring this fast growing African IVF group up to European standards.
Are you wondering whether we really do need In Vitro Fertilization in Africa?
15 - 20 % of couples in the Western world face infertility issues. In Africa this percentage may even be twice as high!
Unwanted childlessness is still regarded as a social stigma in Africa. Couples suffering from fertility problems are still regarded as “failures” and sterility is often enough justification for divorce. Regardless of whether the causes of infertility can be found in the man or the woman, childlessness is usually blamed on the woman.
Sterility is a personal problem and not a social one. The inherent serious consequences that unwanted childlessness may have for Africans, is all the more reason to offer them the best treatment options.
There is an increasing demand for state-of-the-art reproductive treatments in Africa, but since there are no appropriate regulations, it is very difficult to ensure the quality of treatment. This cooperation model makes it possible for Richard and his fertility clinics to get access to tried-and-tested therapies at the highest quality level that are due to be implemented patient-related and effectively in order to improve the already existing high quality standards of his clinics. Both parties agreed on a joint Code of Conduct: “Promoting healthy babies delivered by healthy mothers in compliance with strict safety and ethical standards”.
However, at the moment there is increasing discussion on the introduction of so-called untested “low-cost” treatment methods in Africa. This is unacceptable to many African physicians and is considered to express an arrogant and patronizing attitude resulting from a “new wave of colonization” since those methods are not being applied in the Western world.
The objective of this cooperation is to introduce “first class treatment” in Africa in compliance with the relevant EU Directive [EU Directive on tissues and cells 2004/23/EG)]. These EU standards are considered to be the most stringent regulations in the world.
Moreover, this cooperation represents a global perspective and will create the opportunity to develop new forms of therapy.
A comprehensive and well-structured training and further education program for all team members involves:
- Process and organization optimization (customer-centric processes)
- Increasing flexibility – across teams
- Improving the quality by means of centralized procurement of tested material
- Promoting cooperation, expanding horizons and deepening skills of individuals and teams
- Transfer of know-how needed for IVF
- Room for creative evolvement and personal development
- Team members will be offered improved opportunities for individual development
...all these activities will help enhance the quality of medical services offered to “our couples”!