Dr. Sonia Malik is among the few who have been an integral part of the evolution and growth of specialized infertility treatment in India and abroad. Being at the helm of infertility clinics in Iraq and Dubai, she shifted base to India, and started the Southend IVF Center. This veteran specialist started the center to offer a 360-degree therapy model, which not only addresses the medical needs of the patient, but also looks after the emotional well-being throughout the journey.
In a chat with IVFGurus, Dr. Sonia Malik shared some insights into her practice. Here are excerpts from the interview:
1. IVFGurus: You have over 36 years of experience in obstetrics and gynaecology. What made you shift your focus to IVF and infertility exclusively?
Dr. Sonia Malik: In the year 1979, I completed my M.D. and my thesis dealt with cervical factor in infertility. That was the tickle for me. This triggered me to get into infertility treatment. Soon after that I went to Basra, Iraq and set up a small infertility treatment center over there.
That was the time IVF treatment was seeding. In the year 1978 the first IVF baby, Louise Joy Brown was born in England. It was just the beginning of a new era in infertility treatment. There were no centers available for formal trainings; we had very limited things to offer,but that was the challenge. So I dedicated myself to this, and I had been the part of the advancing technology and treatment.
2. IVFGurus: Seeing that infertility treatment was just budding on the scene then, what kind of training and tools were available to you which helped to develop your expertise?
Dr. Sonia Malik: Clomiphene is one medicine very common these days,When I started practicing, we were very vigilant about using that too, and it was very hard to get also. So one can imagine. There was no formal set-up that time for trainings. But with passing time I got various trainings. In 1990, I attended an advanced course in assisted reproductive techniques in Bombay.
In the year 1993, I went to Bombay as an observer of ART with Dr. Sadhna Desai. The same year I went to the USA as an observer of IVF techniques in Alta Bates Infertility Center. I attended various hands-on workshops of ART procedures which included Micromanipulation in ART (ICSI), Gynaecological Endoscopy, Ultrasound and Advanced Hysteroscopic Surgery.
3. IVFGurus: In the past 36 years, how many infertility cases have you handled?
Dr. Sonia Malik: (Laughs) It’s been so many years. Hard to remember, but I am sure it is more than 10,000 cases.
4. IVFGurus: Is Southend Fertility is your venture entirely?
Dr. Sonia Malik: Yes! It is. We started Southend in the year 2001, with a motto to provide best ethical and quality practice of IVF, and after 13 years of hard work and quality services, we have opened various centers of Soutend in Northern India. We have centers in Punjab, Delhi and Gurgaon too.
5. IVFGurus: Could you please tell us about your team of doctors and embryologists?
Dr. Sonia Malik: I have a very good team which comprises of various IVF experts. Dr.Ved Prakash, who is associated with me for 16 long years , is a very senior Embryologist.We have expert hands handling the whole process.
6. IVFGurus: What type of infertility would you say your clinic is most adept at handling? (Fallopian tube blockage, ovarian cyst etc.)
Dr. Sonia Malik: We are ready to handle every kind of infertility issue at our center. There isn’t one thing I would specifically single out.
7. IVFGurus: Can you recall any critical cases you handled and were proud of?
Dr. Sonia Malik: We come across so many patients and all of them are equally important to us. We get a lot of patients of multiple IVF cycle failure. We get many patients who get rejected by other clinics, and when we treated them , they conceived. These are the cases that make me and my whole team proud.
8. IVFGurus: Please tell us briefly about your lab set-up and standards maintained.
Dr. Sonia Malik: We have a world class set-up; our lab equipments here are the latest and best in the industry, which we keep upgrading from time to time. It includes latest incubators and micromanipulator, Laminar Air flow, controlled environment for IVF and embryo culture, and Precipump Ovum Aspiration Pump.
9. IVFGurus: What is the percentage of international patients? Which country do you get your patients from normally?
Dr. Sonia Malik: We get good number of patients from other countries, especially Gulf countries. Along with it, we get patients from the U.S. and Australia also.
10. IVFGurus: Which is your main center? What are the capacities of your various centers?
Dr. Malik: We get patients from all parts of the country.We have multiple branches in northern India, which includes Holy Angels Hospital, Saket City hospital, Sehagal Neo hospital in Delhi. We also have a tie-up with Max Hospital in Gurgaon. Our branch is in Punjab too – Southend Beri fertility IVF center.
11. IVFGurus: What has been the success rate of your clinic? What is the percentage of take-home babies?
Dr. Sonia Malik: Our over all success rate of ART procedures is 45 to 49 %, which is standard success rate internationally. Talking particularly about IVF, the success rate is 38 % to 39%.
12. IVFGurus: Is infertility on the increase in India? If so, what do you attribute this to?
Dr. Sonia Malik: The fertility index of the country has fallen down very badly. And If we say that it is the scnerio of urban India only, it is not true, our rural population is also facing a lot of infertility issues.The reason of increase in infertility in rural India is the poor hygiene quotient.
In the urban India, the infertility is on a rise because of pollution, unhealthy, and stressfull lifestyles.
13. IVFGurus: What would you say is the USP of your clinic? What do you have to say to your potential patients to make them choose Sounthend?
Dr. Sonia Malik: We are offering the best of the industry. We offer oocyte sharing programs,cryopreservation services, and fertility preservation options. These are few procedures which is not available in many IVF centers.Above all we provide personalished care to our patients.
14. IVFGurus: Do you offer flexibility in payment options for patients from lower income backgrounds?
Dr. Sonia Malik: Yes, we do. We provide treatment at a nominal charge to those who actually have issues, but we are not a government hospital. We cannot provide it for free.We check the patient’s background and see if they really need it, if so, we do.
Disclaimer: The views, opinions and facts expressed by the respondents are expressly their own. Users are suggested to validate all facts before making treatment decisions.