2 weeks ago



START UP CORNER I N T E R V I E W ‘Our main USP is the quality of our services’ Dr Anagha Karkhanis, Consultant, IVF and Reproductive Surgery, Cocoon Fertility and Dr Rajalaxmi Walavalkar, Consultant, IVF and Reproductive Surgery, Cocoon Fertility, have been working towards creating a market niche for their business. They share their vision with Raelene Kambli What is the vision behind setting up Cocoon fertility centres? Dr Anagha: We were both trained in fertility in Europe and the UK, and during our training period we learnt that infertility was a common problem in the world. Moreover, there are big gaps in this field that need to be fixed. About one in every six couples suffer from infertility and yet, only one per cent of Indian couples come forward for diagnosis and treatment. In India, especially, there is an immense stigma attached with infertility and associated medical problems. Apart from lack of awareness, we noticed that there is lack of structured approach to management of infertility as compared to the West. Our vision is to bring a systematic approach to infertility management at an affordable cost. So that more and more childless families have access to such healthcare facilities. Hence, we started off with Cocoon Fertility centre to provide quality services to all. A lot of fertility clinics claim 100 per cent success but during many instances it is not true, which results in a lot of people losing faith in this treatment mode. What is the success rate that you promise? Dr Rajalaxmi: Well, we do not promise a particular success rate. Our patients are therefore counselled to understand what it entails to get fertility treatment. A lot of times people come with the hope that they would immediately get success in their first treatment Dr Anagha Karkhanis, Consultant, IVF and Reproductive Surgery, Cocoon Fertility procedure. That is where the problem lies. Effective communication helps us to convey the right information to our patient and in managing expectations. The success depends on each person’s particular case and will be different from the person sitting next to you. Hence, to fix a particular rate for success, makes it too general and doesn’t allow for individualisation. A person’s chances for success with treatment may indeed be a lot higher or a lot lower than average. How many clinics do you presently have? Dr Anagha: The first centre was opened in Thane, Mumbai and now there are three centres including Santacruz and Dadar. We have two more centres opening soon in Pune and Western suburbs of Mumbai. We hope to expand our reach to maximum cities in India. What is your strategy to scale your business? Dr Rajalaxmi :We will focus on providing quality care to our patients and will continue to expand our service through partnerships. What is the investment done so far? Dr Anagha: We started with self-funding. Today, Cocoon Fertility is building on the existing infrastructure of a decades-old family establishment, one of Thane's most trusted maternity homes. Hence, the investments have been minimal. However, we have recently roped in a strategic investor, the details of which are currently confidential. There is immense competition in the fertility treatment space. What is your differentiator and the value proposition you are offering? Dr Anagha: One of our main USPs is the quality of our services. This ranges right from our consultations to the quality of our embryology laboratory. These positively contribute to our excellent Dr Rajalaxmi Walavalkar, Consultant, IVF and Reproductive Surgery, Cocoon Fertility pregnancy rates. We believe in listening to patients patiently and educating them about every step of their treatment. This turned out to be our USP. Most of our patients tell us that it is the first time they feel they have been heard, it is the first time they understand what the issue is and it is the first time they have been explained as to how it can be sorted. Our high success rates are attributed to our work discipline and the fact that all our clinical decision making and procedures are done by our team of highly experienced specialists only. Our embryology lab is the heart of our Cocoon Fertility Centre. This is a state-of-theart lab equipped with ultramodern gadgets and customised air filtration system to achieve Grade A air purity (EU-GMP). With the help of the latest equipment and modern technology our embryology lab is converted into a space that is adjusted at the same temperature, humidity, cleanliness and atmosphere of the womb, so that the embryos can thrive favourably and give positive pregnancy results. There is a debate that the fertility industry is misleading women? What is your opinion on the same and how would you clear this air? Dr Rajalaxmi : The industry is often blamed with claiming success rates higher than they actually are for conducting un-indicated IVF treatments or for unclear financial implications i.e. hidden charges. See in any business there are good and bad guys. Medical treatments are as much about trust as success. When our work is ethical, when we provide the best care to our patients, when we deal with our patients with complete honesty, I don’t think we need to fear. The trick is to care for your patient like you would care for a member of your family. With this ethos you would always do the right thing. 38 EXPRESS HEALTHCARE February 2018

LIFE I N T E R V I E W ‘It would be too early to make any comment on the efficacy of the HIV Bill’ 43-year-old,Kousalya Periasamy was the first woman in India to declare that she is HIV-positive and has been fighting it for 22 years. She is one of the founders of Positive Women Network (PWN+) which helps other women living with HIV. Periasamy highlights various issues faced by people living with HIV, in an interview with Prathiba Raju What was the inspiration behind starting Positive Women Network (PWN+)? In 1990s, the status of women living with HIV/AIDS (WLHA) was appalling. They were ostracised from their family and community as the stigma and discrimination was severe. Women were blamed for their husbands’ HIV seropositive status; however, in reality, majority of the women were naive, they acquired infection through unprotected sex with their husbands. Moreover, even medically there was not much scope to manage the illness, as the antiretroviral therapy (ART) was not available in the country, ensuing higher HIV mortality rate. At this point in time, I met three other women during a preliminary meetings of The National AIDS Control Programme (NACP) II, who had similar ordeal living with HIV. While attending the programme, we four of us realised that a forum is needed to fight and stand for the health rights of Women Living with HIV/AIDS (WLHA) and prevent further spread of HIV infection among women in the general population. We established PWN+ in the year 1998. Initially, we were more involved with establishing support groups among women living with HIV/AIDS, predominantly in the districts of Tamil Nadu. Gradually, the network has evolved into a rights-based organisation that is actively involved in advocacy, research and building networks with like minded organisations across the country, to challenge the status quo and bring about a positive change in the lives of women and children living with HIV/AIDS (W/C LHA). In the past ten years, how has the situation of treating people living with HIV (PLHIV) changed. What are the challenges that still exist? Within the past decade, a few states including Tamil Nadu, have shown positive changes with regard to stigma and discrimination, while majority of the states in the country where the HIV prevalence rate is low, PLHIV still suffer ill treatment both from community and healthcare professionals. Recently, I got an opportunity to converse with a few women from Kerala, who narrated the miserable situation W/CLHA are forced into, back in their home state. Within families, still there are thousands of individuals unable to disclose their HIV status, even to the closer circles, due to fear of stigma and ill treatment. WLHA still have to fight for property to which they are rightfully entitled. Except for providing antiretroviral therapy, it has been almost a regular story that WLHA are denied appropriate healthcare, even during emergency situations, in both private and government hospitals by the healthcare professionals, in fear of HIV. Poverty and unemployment are rampant among individuals living with HIV/AIDS, pushing their households into appalling conditions, despite the welfare schemes and policies intended for PLHA. While the needs of women, children and men living with HIV are radically different from each other, the existing policies are being indifferent to such differences, bluntly address “people living with HIV,” taking the individuals living with HIV as a homogenous group. There are critical issues related to reproductive health of WLHA, not acknowledged in any of the treatment guidelines except for a pap smear test. Is access to medicines easier now than before? Are antiretroviral therapy (ART) Empowering People to take hold of their own Health A one stop space for all your health tips and queries Authentic Experts from different specialties (M) : 8588887557, email : For More information, please visit: hो healthy हो EXPRESS HEALTHCARE 39 February 2018

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